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English Department

Past Graduate Seminars

Past Graduate Seminars and Workshops

Spring 2014

ENGL 303 Graduate Fiction Workshop
Topic:
Lorrie Moore
(Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

ENGL 304 Graduate Poetry Workshop
Topic:
Mark Jarman
(Monday, 2:10-5:00 p.m.)

The graduate poetry workshop will be focused on class discussion of poetry written by participants.  Members should aim to complete 12 pages of their poetry for the course.  Each class member will also present the work of a contemporary poet of their choice once during the semester. Discussion of the following books by visiting poets will also be included: World Tree by David Wojahn, Secure the Shadow by Claudia Emerson, New Collected Poems by Eavan Boland.

ENGL 305 Graduate nonfiction Workshop
Topic:
Peter Guralnick
(Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

This is a graduate workshop in Creative Nonfiction with a particular emphasis on the profile and long-form narrative piece. Three major pieces will be required, along with some brief additional exercises. Every student in the course will critique each of the papers in writing, and the class will consist primarily of constructive discussion of the work. In addition there will be readings of work by such writers as Gay Talese, Gary Smith, Janet Malcolm, Jonathan Lethem, Joseph Mitchell, Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, David Foster Wallace, and Alice Munro. Much of the focus of discussion will be on issues of characterization, narrative technique, selectivity of detail, and angle of perception -- in other words, how to make a real-life story or profile come alive in much the same way that fictional narrative can. The implicit bond between reader, writer, and subject will also provide a jumping-off point, along with the proverbial Rashomon-like nature of truth. Most of all, the workshop should be seen as a kind of shared enterprise in which a mutual enthusiasm for writing should lead to discussion that is as wide-ranging as it is lively and engaging.

ENGL 307 Lit/Craft Writing
Topic:
Tony Earley
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

ENGL 316 Romantic Prose and Poetry
Topic:
Mark Schoenfield
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Law, Narrative, and Romantic Literature:    

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, 
But to be young was very Heaven! O times, 
In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways 
Of custom, law, and statute, took at once 
The attraction of a country in romance!
               Wordsworth, Prelude, Book IX

Accused of murder in Frankenstein, Justine is convicted because she cannot produce a persuasive narrative. Flummoxed by Mr. Collins, Mrs Bennett laments that an entail--a legal device devised to direct inheritance--results in no knowing which wan an estate will go.  Francis Jeffrey, declaring the authority of his Edinburgh Review, grounds it on the legal authority or precedent and tradition.  Throughout the romantic period, issues of justice, property, and individual rights developed simultaneously with romantic aesthetics, theorizations of narrative persuasiveness, and proliferations of genres of the novel, poetry, and periodical prose.  We will explore authors such as Godwin, Wordsworth, Byron, Jane Austen, Mary Robinson, Walter Scott, Charles Lamb, John Galt, James Hogg, and Francis Jeffrey, and consider how these authors engaged legal issues in their writing and how the pervasive legal cultures they inhabited shaped their works.  Final papers may concern law and literature of any period.

ENGL 337B Introduction to Literary Theory
Topic: Colonial Modernity
Ben Tran
(Thursday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

Since the 1990s scholars from various academic disciplines have employed the term “colonial modernity” to examine the entwined relationship between modernization and colonialism. While most of this scholarship understands the two enterprises as going hand-in-hand, our class will explore how modern thought and aesthetics in non-European contexts emerged both from and against the conditions of colonial modernity. We will consider multiple formations and implications of colonial modernity, while reevaluating modern literature and culture. In order to achieve these goals, we will consider colonial modernity’s relationship to aesthetic modernism, the prosaic, gender, history, nationalism, and revolution. This seminar will be comparative in nature, considering authors from different contexts, including Adorno and Horkheimer, Aimé Césaire, Pheng Cheah, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Rey Chow, Frantz Fanon, Fredric Jameson, and Pramoedya Ananta Toer.

ENGL 355 Studies in American Literature
Topic:
Teresa Goddu
(Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Early African American Print Culture:This course will focus on an emerging field within nineteenth-century US literary studies: early African American print culture. We will explore the critical models shaping this field along with the methodological and archival methods upon which it is based. We will explore how questions of print culture studies—questions of the materiality, production, dissemination, and consumption of print forms—can teach us about early African American literature and how African American literature in turn transforms our understandings of print culture. We will focus specifically on the slave narrative, examining it as not only as a literary genre and cultural form but also as a marketable commodity. The course will introduce students to archival research as well as to the interdisciplinary methodology of the history of the book which maps the relationships between the materiality of the text (its publication history or status as a commercial commodity) and its meaning. Requirements will include weekly writing assignments and research exercises along with a final project that will ask students to prepare their own edition of a slave narrative.

AMER 300
Topic: American Tragedy (in Theory)
Jennifer Fay
(Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

American Tragedy (in Theory):This course concerns the unlikely intersection of American Studies, a resolutely modern and geographically located field of study, and tragedy, an ancient dramatic genre often viewed as incompatible with the modern world. By some accounts, tragedy is the ethical violence that befalls kings, queens, and their progeny in trials of sovereign power, and thus the United States’ “exceptional” democratic status may render a distinctly “American” tragedy both temporally and temperamentally impossible. With these challenges in mind, this seminar will trace the status of American exceptionalism within the institutional lifespan of American Studies (from its Cold War beginnings to our post-Americanist third wave), while exploring the efficacy of a theoretical and affective vocabulary rooted in the history of tragedy. Is America the exception to European tragedy? Is America the tragic exception to the promises of democracy?

Tragedy raises interesting questions about feeling and identity, especially in the context of our neo-liberal age. Is the tragic affect available to the common person, and can it be ordinary? What narratives are available when tragedy is not a catastrophic event but an on-going state of affairs? How does the tragic narrative—of Oedipus and Antigone, for example—reflect gendered experience, and of what use are these narratives for us today? Is there a distinctly feminist tragedy? How might tragedy offer a useful paradigm as distinct from melodrama and trauma? Alongside literary and cinematic works that begin to address these questions, we will likely read from a range of philosophically-inflected meditations on tragedy, from Plato and Aristotle, to Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, Butler, Berlant and Žižek. As we may discover, “tragedy” and “American Studies” are sufficiently hard to define that they may exist, in the most prosaic sense, only “in theory.”

WGS 303
Topic: Queer Theory
Kathryn Schwarz
(Tuesday, 3:30-6:20 p.m.)

Queer Theory: History and development of queer theory. Key intellectual antecedents, significant theorists, and current trends. How sexuality intersects with gender, race, class, nationality, ability, and religion.

Fall 2013

ENGL 303:   Graduate Fiction Workshop
 
Lorraine Lopez
(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
 Rick Hilles
(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.

ENGL 307:  Literature and the Craft of Writing 
Frost and Stevens
Mark Jarman
(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
Texts and Consequences: An Introduction to Textural Scholarship
Leah Marcus
(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.

ENGL 355 Special Topics in English and American Literature

Things

Jonathan Lamb
(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.

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.

ENGL 320   Studies in American Literature

American Classics and Their Afterlives
Cecelia Tichi
(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 
Proseminar: Secularism 
Allison Schachter
(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 AuerbachMarthin 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.

Spring 2013

ENGL 303   Graduate Fiction Workshop
Tony Earley
(Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Description Forthcoming

ENGL 304:  Graduate Poetry Workshop
Kate Daniels
(Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

This an intensive workshop in poetry writing.  Students are expected to complete 10-12 new poems (or the equivalent) over the course of the semester.  We’ll read a series of essays on poetry and poetics, as well as individual volumes by some of the poets who will visit campus as part of the Visiting Writers Series.  Oral presentations on the readings will be assigned.  Extensive revision and regular conferencing with the instructor are expected.

ENGL 305:   Graduate Nonfiction Workshop

Creative Nonfiction Writing 
Peter Guralnick
(Tuesday 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

This is a graduate workshop in Creative Nonfiction with a particular emphasis on the profile and long-form narrative piece. Three major pieces will be required, along with some brief additional exercises. Every student in the course will critique each of the papers in writing, and the class will consist primarily of constructive discussion of the work. In addition there will be readings of work by such writers as Gay Talese, Gary Smith, Janet Malcolm, Jonathan Lethem, Joseph Mitchell, Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, David Foster Wallace, and Alice Munro. Much of the focus of discussion will be on issues of characterization, narrative technique, selectivity of detail, and angle of perception -- in other words, how to make a real-life story or profile come alive in much the same way that fictional narrative can. The implicit bond between reader, writer, and subject will also provide a jumping-off point, along with the proverbial Rashomon-like nature of truth. Most of all, the workshop should be seen as a kind of shared enterprise in which a mutual enthusiasm for writing should lead to discussion that is as wide-ranging as it is lively and engaging,

ENGL 307:   Graduate Seminar
Narrative Poetry
Rick Hilles
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

This graduate seminar is designed for all MFA students who are or will be putting together a first book; to this end, we will focus on seminal first books, including (in poetry): the 1855 Edition of Whitman’s Leaves of Grass; Frost’s A Boy’s Will; Wallace Steven’s Harmonium; E. Bishop’s North and South; Robert Hayden’s A Ballad of Remembrance; S. Old’s Satan Says; Frank Bidart’s Golden State; Anne Carson’s Glass, Irony, and God; guests lecturers in prose (confirmed thus far) include: Tony Earley (who will speak on Ernest Hewingway’s In Our Time and J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories) and Nancy Reisman (who will discuss Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping); each seminar participant will also give a presentation on a first book. Grading: 1/3 each for class participation; seminar presentation; writing project. (Subject to change.)

ENGL 318:   Graduate Seminar
Seminar in Victorian Prose and Poetry: Victorian Popular Literature after Darwin 
Jay Clayton
(Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Survival of the fittest, eugenics, the inheritance of acquired characteristics, the mutability of species, degeneration, extinction—these and other Darwinian topics proved irresistible to popular novelists after 1859. This course examines the interaction between genre fiction in the late-Victorian period and controversial interpretations of evolutionary theory.

We shall focus on a range of popular genres, including a children’s novel, Charles Kingsley, The Water-Babies: A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby (1863); utopias such as Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s The Coming Race (1871) and Samuel Butler’s Erewhon (1872); science fiction such as Robert Lewis Stevenson’sStrange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Grey (1890), H. G. Wells’s The Time Machine (1895), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897); mystery writing including Charles Dickens’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870) and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories; Sarah Grand’s new woman novel The Beth Book (1897); autobiographical writing including Samuel Butler’s posthumous The Way of All Flesh (1903) and Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son (1907); and H. Ryder Haggard’ s imperial romance, She (1887).

To establish the boundaries of our investigation into late-Victorian popular genres, we shall contrast how a realist like George Eliot responded to evolution in Middlemarch (1871-72). Readings will also include selections from Darwin, Galton, and Huxley, and will be combined with some exploration of digital tools for sourcing, analyzing, and data mining in the archives assembled by NINES ( N  etworked  nfrastructure for  ineteenth-Century  lectronic  cholarship). Students will be encouraged to begin (possibly in collaboration with others) a digital humanities project in lieu of writing a research paper. Projects and papers that draw on other periods or regions are welcome.

ENGL 321:   Studies in Southern Literature. From Paleo-South to No-South. 
Michael Kreyling
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

This graduate seminar is designed as a historical survey of primary texts and critical approaches. When it’s over you should be able to enter the southern studies conversation at several points, signaled by an author’s name, a historical era, or a critical approach. I’m asking each of you to do a couple of things to prove that: 1) an individual seminar presentation (you should be familiar with this format) during one of the meetings OR organization of and participation in a semester-ending “conference”; 2) a “review of the relevant documents” or “state of the field” written report on the texts assigned for one of the numbered meetings [these are not exclusive – that is, two are more of you can do the same “era” or “topic,” but the work has to be done solo – the old hermit-in-the-cave model of graduate study; 3) a critical essay ready for submission to an appropriate journal or professional conference – I know that conference papers are generally shorter than journal articles, but I’m going to rule that the paper has to be a minimum of 20 pages not counting “sources cited.” I’ll talk in more detail (due dates, etc.) once the semester gets started.

ENGL 355-01   Special Topics in English and American Literature
English/American Lit Cinema, Modernity, Modernism 

Paul Young
(Thursday, 3:30-6:00)

 How was the twentieth-century cinema modern? We will approach this question via severalchannels: theory, history, and criticism of modernity and mass culture; scrutiny of the opportunities for (and influences on) modernist visual art and literary practice offered by the cinema; close analyses of both commercial films andartisanal, experimental works; and ethnographic films, which we’ll cast both as imperialist fantasies and as discursive pressure points at which twentieth-century colonialism openly airs its ideological stakes. Readings will range from turn-of-the-century philosophy, sociology, and journalism (Simmel, Bergson, Kraucaer) and Frankfurt School critical theory (Benjamin, Horkheimer and Adorno) to research on the ethnographic gaze, African American filmmaking in the teens and twenties, and the functions of cinema for avant-garde movements in art and literature. Films screened (weekly) will range from the earliest films evershown and early feature films by D. W. Griffith, Fritz Lang and others, to pre-World-War II avant-garde experiments (possible directors include Ray, Dulac, Duchamp, Clair, Léger, Buñuel, Cocteau, and Eisenstein), US structural films of the 1960s and 70s (Frampton, Snow), and a bit of Alfred Hitchcock, whose work we will use as a test case for Hollywood cinema’s sustained conversation with modernism through the end of modernity’s century.

ENGL 355-02   Special Topics in English and American Literature
Atlantic and Hemispheric Studies
 
Vera Kutzinski
(Wednesday
 , 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Introduction to TransArea Studies: Atlantic and Hemispheric American Studies

In this course we will focus on the dynamics of geocultural relations as articulated in literary, critical, historical, and anthropological texts about the Americas. We will scrutinize key terms/tropes such as routes, migrancy, mobility, hybridity, transculturation, and translation and their use in critical-theoretical scholarship that has been instrumental in the formation of two sets of overlapping transnational discourses: one, that of the hemispheric Americas (aka inter-American and New World studies, transamerican and hemispheric American studies) and, two, that of the Atlantic world (aka Atlantic studies, diaspora studies). Our purpose is to assess the possibilities and limitations of the theoretical models that organize each of these discourses: center-periphery, contact zone, diaspora, the Black Atlantic, circum-Atlantic, and TransArea. We will do so by putting these paradigms to the test, unpacking and questioning the assumptions on which they rely and from which they seek to derive their internal coherence and conceptual authority. Since many of the texts we will read are in English translation, translation, multilingualism, and polyvocality as critical concepts and literary practices will concern us throughout the course. Three very different texts from the nineteenth and twentieth century, all of them in translation, will serve as our textual laboratories as we move between theory and critical practice: Alexander von Humboldt’s Essai politique sur l’Île de Cuba (1827; Political Essay on the Island of Cuba), Fernando Ortiz’s Contrapunteo cubano (1947; Cuban Counterpoint), and Manuel Zapata Olivella’s novel Changó, el gran putas (1992; Changó, the Biggest Badass).

            How to define our object of study and its spatio-temporal location(s) is an initial and recurring concern. Is it America, América, the other America, the Americas, the New World, the New Continent, the American hemisphere—terms that all imply certain relations to Europe in particular and the rest of the world more generally? Is it the fluid space of the Atlantic? How do we decide what cultural relations are worth studying? How do we as academics relate to our object of study? What sorts of knowledge do we hope to gain from our theories and research (e.g., knowledge about geocultural exchanges and influences, literary and otherwise; knowledge for living together; hemispheric knowledge)?

            Studying cultural relations in the Americas and in the Atlantic world requires comparisons. On what methodological basis do we compare forms of expressive behavior, in our case, mainly writing? What assumptions do we make and what expectations do we have when we compare texts from different geocultural spaces? The question of how we can describe, analyze, and theorize about geocultural relations in the most precise ways possible will lead us to engage with the concept of movements across actual and imagined geographies, and with movements as constitutive of those geographies. People, good, and ideas have moved and move within and across temporal and geographical spaces. How best to analyze their movement, which may be unidirectional or multidirectional, using different modes and forms of conveyance at different points in history? How do we deal with movements between spaces that are less stable than we once thought (e.g., nations)? We will consider how the framework of TransAreas, in conjunction with theories about performance, can help us identify and map patterns of mobility and approach what might be called a poetics or aesthetics of movement.

FREN 388: Literary and Language Theory
From Linguistics and the Philosophy of Language to Current Trends in Literary Studies
Robert Barsky
(Thursdays 4:10-6:30)

 The goal of this course is to ask some of the basic questions about literary theory, language theory, philology, and linguistics, and then to discuss them through reference to both theoretical and (wherever possible) literary texts. What is literary/language theory? What are we doing when we are doing language studies? What is the relationship between the 'literary', the ‘language’ and the 'theory'? What is the ‘red thread’ that connects various theories? Students will be encouraged to think through these questions with reference to some some excerpts from fundamental precursory work and, moreover, with reference to the basic texts that have informed language research through the centuries, before arriving at the current ‘crisis’ in literary and language studies brought on by new technologies, and approaches to the mind. The goal is to provide the student with a basic grounding in major theoretical approaches, including rhetoric, philology, linguistics, formalism, Marxist literary theory, dialogism, structuralism and semiotics, narratology, New Criticism, reception theory, feminist literary theory, psychocriticism, deconstruction and sociocriticism, but we will also survey work in other fields, such as anthropology and linguistics, to demonstrate the “literary theory” doesn’t operate, or shouldn’t operate, in its own realm but rather draws from insights across the disciplinary spectrum. 

Fall 2012 

ENGL 303   Graduate Fiction Workshop
Fiction Writing and the Novella
Lorraine Lopez
(Monday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

In this workshop, we will focus on the construction of effective works of fiction by encouraging writers to explore possibilities through reading published and peer narratives.  Members will produce creative and critical writing and present original fiction for workshop critique.  Over the course of the semester, participants are expected to draft a minimum of two short stories or chapters for presentation to the workshop for critique.  This workshop undertakes complex and advanced analysis of elements of craft such as structure, symbol, metaphor, and style, and presumes members are already familiar with rudimentary techniques related to the development of characters, the balance of scene and summary, and construction of the narrative arc.  Beyond elements of fiction, we will investigate tension produced by symbol, imagery, metaphor, and underlying thematic strands in published and peer-produced literature.  Charles Baxter’s The Art of Subtext and selected essays will guide workshop discussion along these lines.  As contemplation of craft and teaching/mentoring are critical components of the professional writer’s career, workshop members will lead presentations on elements of craft in conjunction with works of assigned reading and assign and direct in-workshop writing exercises.  Finally, becoming a writer means being a responsible member of the literary community and publishing written work.  As such, each workshop member will draft and publish a book review during the semester. 

ENGL 304   Graduate Poetry Writing Workshop
Rick Hilles
(Tuesday, 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.

ENGL 307-01   Graduate Fiction Workshop
Pastiche:  Collage, Montage, Documentary, and Literary Fiction
Nancy Reisman 
(Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

In this course, we’ll consider ways in which both visual and literary artists draw on methods of assemblage, ongoing conversations between the visual and the literary, fiction and non-fiction, and the ways several literary writers have used pastiche forms.  What do collage or documentary forms offer a writer that other forms may not? How might collage forms shift the reader’s/viewer’s experience?  We’ll read work by Michael Ondaatje, Tim O’Brien, Manuel Puig, among others; consider visual works by Joseph Cornell, Betye Saar,  and other artists; and also consider the ways in which film technique and individual works suggest possibilities for literary fiction. The assigned course projects will include options for original fiction and hybrid creative projects as well as more traditional analytical discussions; course assignments will include brief weekly responses.

ENGL 307-02   Graduate Poetry Workshop 
Forms of Poetry:  Reading Modern European Poetry in Translation 
Kate Daniels
(Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

In this MFA seminar, we will read selected works of some of the major European poets of the Modernist and post war eras, exploring this oeuvre in individual language clusters.  We’ll begin with (pre-modern) Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud, and continue with Mallarme, Apollinaire, Ponge, Celan, Breton.  Then:  Trakl, Rilke, Sachs, Brecht.  Neruda, Lorca, Machado, Pessoa.  Pasternak, Mandelstam, Ahkmatova, Brodsky.  Pavese, Montale, Calvino.  Cavafy, Ritsos, Seferis.  Hikmet.  Radnoti.  Rozewciz, Milosz, Szymborska.  We’ll end with Transtromer (current Nobel Laureate), Ekelof, and Martinson. 

Along the way, we’ll focus on selected aspects of literary translation (and will have several guest presenters); the prose poem; the advent of free verse; continental Dadaism and Surrealism; literary influences among these poets and certain English language poets of the era (Baudelaire & E.A. Poe; James Wright & Trakl; Brodsky & Auden, etc.); individual literary movements and affiliations (i.e. French Symbolism, Russian Futurism); the crucial role of Robert Bly’s The Fifties and The Sixties press in making many of these poets first available in English, and in disseminating their work; and other topics as they arise from our reading and response.

Each student will be responsible for at least two lecture/presentations throughout the semester, and a final writing project at semester’s end.  
 

ENGL 310   Seminar in Shakespeare
Shakespeare and Theory 
Lynn Enterline
(Monday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

Whether as author or cultural object, “Shakespeare” attracts vigorous theoretical speculation and debate.  Part of the aim of this seminar will be to investigate the terms, insights, and omissions attending the numerous kinds of theoretically informed critique instigated by the linguistic turn of structuralist and post-structuralist theory.  Bookended by Shakespeare and the Question of Theory (Patricia Parker and Geoffrey Hartman, 1986) andShakespeare and Literary Theory (Jonathan Gil Harris, 2011), this quarter century saw the rise of numerous critical/theoretical schools – psychoanalytic, feminist, queer, Marxist, materialist, post-colonial – that have become part of the DNA of our profession.  But the seminar’s primary goal will not be to survey schools of theory as such.  Rather, we begin from the observation that Shakespeare’s texts already inhabit the theories brought to bear on them: major writers in all of the “contemporary” theories listed above have turned to Shakespeare’s texts as part of their investigation.  We will therefore endeavor to read early- and post-modern texts side by side – in dialogue, a mode deeply familiar to sixteenth century authors – while questioning the validity of these period distinctions and the meliorist historical narratives derived from them.   Our readings will be organized around some of the most important issues shared by Shakespeare and the numerous theorists who engage with his texts.  And the underlying question behind these dialogic inquiries will be as follows: what specific critical purchase does the practice of reading literature offer those who would understand Walter Benjamin’s observation that all documents of culture are also documents of barbarism? Topics include: language, subjectivity, gender, sexuality, affect, bodies, race, authority, power, ideology

ENGL 355-01   Special Topics in English and American Literature
Idea of Black Culture 
Hortense Spillers
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

The idea of black culture provides a reading of conceptualizations of the subject across a historical timeline that begins with W.E.B. DuBois's Souls of Black Folk (1903) and proceeds through successive periods of black cultural apprenticeship: The Pan-African idea, pursued as a practice after the end of World War I; the era of African decolonization and the mounting of the Civil and human rights campaigns in the United States, which both share the global context of the "Cold War" (from the Marshall Plan to the collapse of the Berlin Wall, 1989, and the dismantling of the Soviet Union, 1991), the "birth" of Black Studies and the development of the new epistemologies of the post-sixties and beyond, and  the emergence of Diaspora and the post-race/post-colonial subject of the latter twentieth century—the implications of the Obama Presidency. Each of these eras of human and social engagement has engendered its own distinctive work on the meaning(s) of black culture. This seminar will examine such readings in a selective manner by analyzing texts by, among others, C.L.R. James, Frantz Fanon, Aime Cesaire, as well as contemporary scholars, including Saidiya Hartman, Fred Moten, Nahum Chandler, Ken Warren, and Brent Edwards. (a comprehensive list to follow)

ENGL 355-02   Special Topics in English and American Literature
Was Cinema Modern? 
Paul D. Young
(Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Few filmgoers during the medium’s first decades (1895-1925) would have thought twice about the question: the cinema simply was the most revolutionary medium of representation ever devised. Yet its photographic and mechanical technologies emerged in the middle of the nineteenth century, and its public, collective exhibition practices seem thoroughly antiquated in the age of video and digital media. We will address the seminar’s titular question from both ends of the twentieth century by delving into theory, history, and criticism of the modernity of cinema, its possibilities for modernist art and literary practice, and its relationships to digital audiovisual media. Readings will range from turn-of-the-century philosophy, sociology, and journalism (Simmel, Bergson, Kraucaer) and Frankfurt School critical theory (Benjamin, Horkheimer and Adorno) to the uses of cinema for Dadaism, surrealism, and avant-garde movements in art and literature. Films screened (weekly) will range from the earliest films ever shown and silent commercial films by D. W. Griffith, Fritz Lang and others, to the avant-garde experiments of the twenties (possible directors include Ray, Dulac, Duchamp, Clair, Léger, Buñuel, and Eisenstein), structural films of the 1960s and 70s (Frampton, Snow), and even a little Hitchcock (via Zizek). Readings begin with We Have Never Been Modern, Bruno Latour’s post-humanist history of the empirical sciences (1993), and end with David Rodowick’s The Virtual Life of Film (2007)Please purchase and read the Latour before the first seminar meeting.

ENGL 355-03:   Special Topics in English and American Literature
Proseminar:  Literary Study and the Transnational Turn 
Mark Wollaeger
(Thursday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

This course is designed as an introduction to graduate study focused on the transnational/global turn in literary studies. Although this turn has been underway, depending on the period and field, for about a decade, in recent years it has begun to grow more prominent. Given that my own expertise lies in modernism, much of the common reading of primary texts will be drawn from the long twentieth century; but individual projects grounded in a period/field of your choice will also be assigned, and the study of modernism will emphasize its links to other periods, fields, and national traditions. Theoretical readings by their very nature will also speak across disciplinary distinctions organized according to temporal, spatial, or linguistic coordinates. I could make up a list of assigned texts, but I honestly don’t know yet. I do know, however, that even though gesture is sometimes considered a universal language, the list of possible assignments will not include interpretive dance

WGS 301   Gender and Sexuality                                 This course is dual listed with English 
Feminist Approaches 
Kathryn Schwarz
(Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

Interdisciplinary introduction to the major debates, theoretical terms, and research methods in feminist, gender, sexuality, and queer studies.

In this seminar, we will build an archive that gives us tools for thinking about gender and sexuality from a range of disciplinary perspectives.  We will consider theories of social subjectivity, which posit various relationships between systems of power and individual identities and desires; our discussions will engage such cultural theorists as Louis Althusser, Lauren Berlant, Leo Bersani, Judith Butler, Jonathan Dollimore, Lee Edelman, Michel Foucault, Judith Halberstam, Gayle Rubin, Elaine Scarry, Joan W. Scott, Patricia Williams, and Slavoj Zizek.  We will invite scholars from a range of fields to join us for conversations about their scholarship and the methodologies that inform it.  As we move through the semester, students will have opportunities to assign texts—historical, critical, archival, and/or theoretical—that represent the disciplines and approaches with which they are most concerned.

Spring 2012

ENGL 303 Graduate Fiction Workshop 
Nancy Reisman 
(Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

Description forthcoming

ENGL 304 Graduate Poetry Workshop
Kate Daniels
(Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Description forthcoming

ENGL 305 Graduate Nonfiction Workshop 
Creative Nonfiction Writing 
Peter Guralnick 
(Tuesday 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

This is a graduate workshop in Creative Nonfiction with a particular emphasis on the profile and long-form narrative piece. Three major pieces will be required, along with some brief additional exercises. Every student in the course will critique each of the papers in writing, and the class will consist primarily of constructive discussion of the work. In addition there will be readings of work by such writers as Gay Talese, Gary Smith, Janet Malcolm, Jonathan Lethem, Joseph Mitchell, Jack Kerouac, Ernest Hemingway, David Foster Wallace, and Alice Munro. Much of the focus of discussion will be on issues of characterization, narrative technique, selectivity of detail, and angle of perception -- in other words, how to make a real-life story or profile come alive in much the same way that fictional narrative can. The implicit bond between reader, writer, and subject will also provide a jumping-off point, along with the proverbial Rashomon-like nature of truth. Most of all, the workshop should be seen as a kind of shared enterprise in which a mutual enthusiasm for writing should lead to discussion that is as wide-ranging as it is lively and engaging,

ENGL 307 Literature and the Craft of Writing 
Tony Earley 
(Wedensday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Description forthcoming

ENGL 307 Literature and the Craft of Writing 
Rick Hilles 
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Description forthcoming

ENGL 318 Seminar in Victorian Literature 
Visuality, Visual Culture, and the Victorian Imagination 
Rachel Teukolsky 
(Thursday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

This course will approach Victorian literary and cultural history from the angle of visuality. We will study some of the famous Victorian high-art interactions between verbal and visual arts, such as D. G. Rossetti's poetry and paintings, Robert Browning's "painter poems," and art writing by John Ruskin and Walter Pater. We will also consider literary works remarkable for their visual play, such as Dickens's Bleak House, Brontë's Villette, and Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, among others. And we will explore some key objects of Victorian visual culture, including illustrated books, advertising posters, and representations of the Great Exhibition of 1851, usually considered the first World's Fair. Histories and theories of nineteenth-century visuality will potentially include Nancy Armstrong on photography; Sharon Marcus on fashion plates; Vanessa Schwarz on the idea of visual culture; W. J. T. Mitchell on ekphrasis; Walter Benjamin on art and machines; Michel Foucault on panopticons; Jonathan Crary on optical experiments; Martin Jay on "Scopic Regimes of Modernity"; and Friedrich Kittler on early film, among others. The course, aimed at both specialists and non-specialists, will consider some basic questions: How to analyze an image? What is visual culture, and how has the idea become significant to nineteenth-century studies? How do the shifting historical relations of high art to mass culture inflect our understanding of words and images in the nineteenth century?

ENGL 337 Seminar in Critical Theory 
"Theory and Life" 
Scott Juengel 
(Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

One could responsibly argue that no critical question occupied literary, political and cultural theory of the last decade more than the question of life. Indeed, it might seem hard to argue otherwise. As a concept, life heralds something both essential and elusive, and as such its fate concenters a range of theoretical investigations that extend across the arts, sciences and the political world. For instance, recent commitments to biological time have aligned Darwin with figures like Nietzsche, Bergson and Deleuze in order to think again the persistence of a livable future. And such a future, imaged so often these days as posthuman and virtually administrated, has not only put the matter of the human to heretofore unseen theoretical trials, but has triggered a return to the question of thingliness and the increasingly porous boundaries between the animate and inanimate, between life and the lifelike. Similarly, eulogies for the demise of the nation-state and a post-9/11 strategic bargain with humanism have produced a motley of concerns about the nature of sovereignty, politico-theological legitimacy, and the biopolitical (life in its "bare," "creaturely," "precarious" and "everyday" forms). In other words, this evanescent thing called life has reorganized multiple fields of inquiry in recent years; or rather, it has revealed itself again with ever-urgent force as a linchpin of late modern ethical thought.

While there will be a conceptual focus to the semester, this seminar is designed to introduce graduate students to a range of theoretical approaches, and as such our conversations each week will remain sensitive to method and argument. In this spirit, the course title is also a call to consider the role of "theory" in professional life both in and outside the academy. For example, in addition to charting the saliency of "life" in contemporary cultural theory, we will periodically explore the juncture where forms of historically situated life-writing and conceptual investigation intersect—i.e. Adorno's Minima Moralia; Derrida's "autobiographical animal" lectures; Benjamin's One-Way Street or "Hashish writings"; Fanon's Black Skin, White Masks; Butler on responsibly accounting for oneself after 9/11, etc.—in order to reflect on the history and experience of critical theorizing across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

ENGL 355-01 Special Topics in English and American Literature 
Biocultures: Twenty-First Century Models of Science, Medicine, and Literature 
Jay Clayton 
(Monday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

Since the heyday of the science wars in the 1990s when radical critiques of science provoked a backlash in the scientific community, a shift has occurred in the relationship between science, medicine, and the humanities. New models range from cognitive studies and evolutionary psychology, which tend to emphasize what science can contribute to the humanities, to models that emphasize the way literary studies can affect scientific and medical practice by influencing public policy. In the latter case, focusing on the social, ethical, and cultural implications of science gives literary scholars an opportunity to intervene in established interdisciplinary conversations that have real consequences beyond the academy.

In this seminar we will concentrate on dystopian fictions and films such as Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1931), Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982), Andrew Niccol's Gattaca (1997), Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake (2003) and The Year of the Flood (2009), David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas (2004), Kazua Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (2005), and Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story (2010), as well as other recent novels such as Ian McEwan;s Saturday (2005) and Richard Powers's Generosity (2009); science fiction stories about the posthuman by Arthur C. Clarke, Theodore Sturgeon, Robert A. Heinlein, Octavia Butler, Nancy Kress, Charles Stross, and Greg Egan; and theoretical texts in science studies by Lorraine Daston, Lennard Davis, Peter Galison, Sander Gilman, John Guillory, Evelyn Fox Keller, David Morris, Nikolas Rose, Steven Shapin, Mark Turner, and Priscilla Wald.

To provide hands-on experience in interdisciplinary research methods, interested students will join research teams in a medical school laboratory with the goal of identifying a literary work that explores the social or cultural implications of the lab's investigations in areas such as breast feeding, cancer research, contagious diseases, vaccine safety, genetic screening, cloning, organ transplants, pain, and sexuality research. Students will learn how grants are developed in the sciences; how multi-disciplinary teamwork occurs in the medical world; and how to generate papers on social, ethical, and cultural issues raised by science and medicine.

ENGL 355-02 Special Topics in English and American Literature 
Herman Melville 
Colin Dayan 
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

This seminar is an intensive reading in the prose and poetry of Herman Melville, especially Moby Dick (1851); Pierre, or the Ambiguities (1852); Israel Potter (1855); The Piazza Tales (1856); The Confidence Man (1857); Battle Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866); Clarel: A Poem and a Pilgrimage (1876); Billy Budd, Sailor (1924). Only in the conclusion of the course will we turn to a discussion of literary critical approaches to these works. The burden of this class will lie in our close readings and contextualization of Melville's writings, which will demand some familiarity with authors and issues crucial to his accounts of the Old World and New, his obsession with taxonomies of the human, the facts of bondage, and the nature of belief--whether in law, God, or nation. These collateral readings include works by John Locke, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Orville Dewey, James Kent, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the legal opinions of Lemuel Shaw and Joseph Story, as well as selected natural histories of the Caribbean.

Requirements: an oral presentation and a final essay.

ENGL 355-03 Special Topics in English and American Literature 
Beneath the Mask: Subjectivity and Suppression in African American and Caribbean Autobiography 
Ifeoma Nwnankwo 
(Wedensday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

This course will delve into the approaches to self-crafting and self-representation in autobiographical narratives African-descended individuals from the U.S. and the (English and Spanish-speaking) Caribbean. During the first unit of the class students will gain a firm grounding in autobiography theory and criticism, particularly that focused on the earliest narratives produced by people of African descent in the Americas. In the second (and most expansive) unit, we will explore more contemporary public articulations of self, including those posited in more contemporary literary texts, popular music (hip hop and dancehall reggae in particular), and oral narratives generated via interviews. The third unit will center on the crafting of a final project. Students will choose from multiple format options—a critical essay, a theoretical essay, an autobiographical narrative (about you or about someone else), a set of life history or oral history interviews (historically and theoretically contextualized), a series of poems, a short story, or a set of lesson plans for K-12 teachers. Substantive and intensive readings and discussions about the mechanics, implications, and histories of each format/methodology, particularly as it relates to African American and Caribbean people, will figure prominently in this unit, as will one-on-one conferences about each student's project.

Fall 2011

ENGL 303  Graduate  Fiction Workshop 
Narrative Craft and Linked-Story Collections 
Lorraine Lopez 
(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 advanced consideration of elements of fiction and presumes 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. This particular workshop will focus on the linked-story collection, and as such, participants will read, present, discuss, and critique published linked-story collections by various authors, including Alice Munro, Anthony Doerr, Sarah Shun-lien Bynum, Daniel Bezmozgis, Barbara Johnson, and Daniel Mueenuddin. Additionally, workshop members will read articles on craft in Curious Attractions by Debra Spark , as well as attend literary events and participate in question-answer sessions with visiting fiction writers. Finally, being a responsible member of the writing community means promoting contemporary literature. Thus, workshop members will also compose a review of a newly released work of fiction for publication in an online or print venue during the semester.

ENGL 304 Graduate Poetry Workshop 
TBD 
Mark Jarman 
(Tuesday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

Description Forthcoming

ENGL 307-02 Graduate Seminar 
Ma & Pa Poetry: Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman 
Kate Daniels 
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

In this MFA seminar, we will read the complete poetry of Emily Dickinson & Walt Whitman, along with several biographies and critical articles, addressing various aspects of each poet's work. Our goal will be to understand something about the startling emergence of the first original voices in American poetry, to trace the critical reception to both poets over time, to explore their influence on twentieth century poets, and to read them as writers, ourselves, examining closely selected technical aspects of their verse. We will begin with Dickinson. Over the summer, please read The Complete Poems of E.D., and the Sewall biography, so that we can get right to work. During the second week of September, former US Poet Laureate Billy Collins will give a guest lecture on Dickinson and her poetry.

ENGL 307-01 Graduate Fiction Workshop 
Where the Girls Are: (Some) Contemporary Women Short Story Writers and their Influences 
Nancy Reisman 
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

In this course, we'll explore the work of several late 20th and 21st century women short story writers, and delve into their various aesthetics, influences, formal and thematic concerns. We'll consider generational and cultural moments (with an eye on the intergenerational links and divergences); the sense of relationship, desire, and place within writers' works; their visions of the short story form and uses of language; their representations of power and the power dynamics within forms; and their non-literary as well as their literary influences. Among the writers we'll read and discuss: Grace Paley, Alice Munro, Angela Carter, Lorrie Moore, Deborah Eisenberg, Lydia Davis, Clarice Lispector, Aimee Bender, Jhumpa Lahiri, and several newly emerging story writers. Course projects will include engagement with art-making process and oral and written discussion of formal and cultural concerns.

ENGL 355-04 Graduate Seminar in British Romanticism 
Re-Orienting British Romanticism 
Humberto Garcia 
(Tuesday, 3:30-6:00p.m.)

This graduate seminar explores the complex ways in which Romantic poetry and fiction were enabled, in major part, by cross-cultural, political, and economic engagements with the Orient, defined (for the purpose of this course) as Muslim Afro-Eurasia with a particular focus on late eighteenth-century British India. In order to historically situate the Romantic fascination with the Orient, the first half of this seminar examines two formative periods: (i) George Sale's English translation of the Koran (1734, rpt. in 1795) and the various "Lives of Mahomet" that portrayed Islam sympathetically. (ii) Sir William Jones' groundbreaking linguistic work on Sanskrit and Persian literature and the influential role of the Asiatic Society of Bengal in Calcutta (established in 1784) for the discovery/construction of Hindu and Buddhist Enlightenments. The second half of the course examines the orientalist works of Edmund Burke, Elizabeth Hamilton, Sake Dean Mahomet, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and others. The primary goal is to rethink British Romantic literature in a global and transnational context, understanding the codes, rhetoric, and genres of Romantic Orientalism in relation to literary experimentation, revolutionary politics, British nationalism, and the colonial enterprise at home and abroad. Various theoretical and interdisciplinary approaches (in history, economics, religious studies, etc.) will be paramount, but revisionist scholarship in postcolonial studies will receive the most sustained attention. Hence, the first two weeks of class are dedicated to a reappraisal and reexamination of a much-disputed but seminal theoretical text: Edward Said's Orientalism (1978).

Because this seminar is designed for specialists and non-specialists alike, the required 20-30 page seminar paper (50% of your total grade) could reflect related literary and theoretical issues in other fields and periods of interest. Class participation (10%), a formal presentation on assigned secondary readings (10%), and a seminar paper abstract (10%) are also required. The semester culminates in a conference-style oral presentation based on your revised abstract (20%).

ENGL 320 Studies in American Literature 
U.S. Antebellum Print Culture 
Teresa Goddu 
(Monday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

This course will focus on the emergence of a national literary marketplace in the U.S. antebellum period by examining how the market revolution structured the trade in print.

In examining print as both a cultural form and a marketable commodity, it will situate texts within a variety of distributional, technological, consumerist, and discursive networks. It will historicize and theorize modes of antebellum authorship, circulation, and readership as well as attend to particular genres and forms. Our specific case studies will be drawn from early African American print culture. Indeed, we will use African American literature as our lens through which to understand the antebellum period.

The course will introduce students to archival research methods as well as to the interdisciplinary methodology of print culture studies which maps the relationships between the materiality of the text (its publication history or status as a commercial commodity) and its meaning. While the course will be focused on the US antebellum period for its historical frame and African American literature for its case studies, its methodology is transferable to all literary fields. All students with an interest in print culture studies are encouraged to take the class.

The class will consist of weekly archival exercises and several mid-size papers that synthesize the class's methodologies.

ENGL 355-02 Special Topics in English and American Literature 
Poetry 
Vereen Bell 
(Wednesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Up to a point this seminar will be experimental in that the texts we use and approaches we take will be determined by the needs of the students enrolled. The long range plan is to create a model for future seminars like it that other instructors can teach. The seminar will have two objectives. The first objective is to refresh and calibrate our close-reading skills (which apply, of course, to other texts as well as to poetry) and to form an understanding of the formal strategies by means of which poetry addresses its audience, both in the present and in its original historical moment. The second objective is to examine representative longer poems as they are contextualized and interpreted by the different critical approaches which currently prevail in our profession. The first three weeks of the seminar will be devoted to poetry-reading boot camp, involving reading and discussing a variety of poems, both canonical and contemporary, selected to represent the range of possibilities of poetic expression. After that stage—for the next twelve weeks—we will examine at two or three week intervals major poems or clusters of poems selected (by the class, more or less) from a group which will include Shakespeare's Sonnets; Keats's Odes; Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"; Tennyson's In Memoriam; Yeats's "Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen"; Eliot's The Waste Land; Frost's North of Boston; Sylvia Plath's Ariel; Adrienne Rich's Twenty-One Love Poems; Yusef Komunyakaa's Dien Cai Dau. The procedure with the longer poems will be first to discuss the poems themselves (without outside help, so to speak) and then to discuss and evaluate critical and scholarly writings about those poems. Where it is possible expert visitors will be invited in to guide our discussions at relevant points and walk us through the hard parts, giving us the benefits of their training and special interests.

At the end of the boot camp phase students will be required to submit at least one close-reading analysis of a specific poem. At the end of the second, students will submit a longer paper on a more substantial single poem or cluster of poems, by a poet of the student's choosing, that replicates the methodologies and the research-based analysis we will have used in the second phase.

ENGL 355-01 Special Topics in English and American Literature 
Maladies of Attention: The Distracted Subject of Cinema 
Jennifer Fay 
(Monday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)
Please note meeting time correction (was previously listed as 12:30-3:00)

As Jonathan Crary argues, the norms of attention have arisen in relation to the reciprocal and inseparable phenomena of modern distraction. Paradoxically, distraction may be a tool of attention, and thus attention, as a discrete category of perception, poses several challenges to theorization. Beginning in the 19th century and working towards more contemporary cinematic practices, this course queries the tension between various modes of distraction that are intricated in absorbed perception, specifically cinematic perception. It proposes to re-assess some of the canonical films and texts of film theory (realist, surrealist, feminist, Marxist...) that are predicated on distinctions between spectacle and narrative, shock and absorption, fragmentation and totality, and masculine and feminine feeling. The course will also engage films and readings that are not typically theorized together. By pairing theory/criticism and primary texts across a range of media, we will probe the thresholds of modern perceptual, affective, and political states of mind.

To give but two examples: We will read Gustav Flaubert's 1857 Madame Bovary with Chantal Akerman's 1975 experimental film Jeanne Dielman while reading excerpts from Lars Svendsen's A Philosophy of Boredom (2005) and Elizabeth S. Goodstein's Experience without Qualities: Boredom and Modernity (2005) in order to understand histories and forms of feminine and feminist boredom. Similarly, at the interstices of attention and commitment, we will ponder the emaciated body as a spectacle of suffering, a narrative of virtuosic self-mastery, an index of oppression, as well as a sign of political withdrawal (in both senses of that word). We will pair such texts as Steve McQueen's Hunger (2008), Franz Kafka's 1922 "Hunger Artist" and the writings and films of Brazilian Cinema Nova's most outspoken theorist, Glauber Rocha ("An Esthetic of Hunger", 1965) for whom the depleted body finds its revolutionary representation in the "sad, ugly...screaming, desperate" films of underdevelopment. This class takes seriously such attentive diversions as forgetfulness, indifference, boredom, repetition, disgust, and obsession, and it will attempt to connect them to a range of modern political conditions and affectations.

There will be a mandatory screening outside of class every week at a time and place to be determined.

ENGL 355-03 Special Topics in English and American Literature 
Proseminar: Bodies and Subjects: The Violence of Social Contract 
Kathryn Schwarz 
(Thursday, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

In this course, we will think about the costs and rewards of social subjectivity. The costs are familiar elements of our analytical vocabulary, from interpellation and false consciousness to abjection and ideological jouissance. For that very reason, it is worth looking closely at the privileges conferred on the social subject. However illusory those privileges may be, they defend against the immanent capacities of the body: to nurture disease, to succumb to desire, to be in peril or out of place, to die. Those capacities exceed the reach of agency or intention, and locate the body in a transactional, mutable, and dangerous intimacy with the world.

Of course we know this; here we will concentrate on the stories told to manage that knowledge. One of those stories involves a notion of contract that upholds social integrity regardless of individual costs. If such contracts produce the hierarchies and exclusions that motivate ideological critique, they also rewrite the meaning of transience: temporary bodies sustain social permanence, and self-loss is always someone else's problem. Collective priorities thus have a peculiarly protective effect, even in their most oppressive forms. This perhaps sheds some light on the difficulty of radical change, even when we possess an articulate awareness of the coercions and seductions that shape social life.

We will build an archive that gives us tools for thinking about ideology in its various guises—language, labor, and history, consent, desire, discipline, and law—drawing on such theorists as Louis Althusser, Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Michel de Certeau, Michel Foucault, Carla Freccero, Jacques Lacan, Elaine Scarry, and Slavoj Zizek. We will spend a few weeks with Renaissance texts, to consider the significance of assigning a "birth" to the modern subject: what happens, for example, if we set the "subject" of Foucault's discipline beside the "subject" of Jacob Burkhardt's individualism, and look at a play by Marlowe or Shakespeare through both lenses at once? As we move through the semester, students will have opportunities to assign texts—literary, historical, critical, and theoretical—that represent the periods, forms, and methodologies with which they are most concerned.

Other Courses of Interest

This course is dual listed with English and the description updated May 9, 2011

HIST 343 Studies in Early Modern English History 
Studies in Early Modern English History: Religious politics and confessional conflict in early Stuart England 
Peter Lake 
(Wednesday, 6:10-9:00 p.m.)

This is a wholly different from the course I taught last fall (2010), which I changed to suit the interests of the students taking it. This is about the early Start and civil war periods and is more heavily contrasted on religious disputes and polemics between puritans and various sorts of conformists in England and between catholic and protestants and then between all sorts of people during the religious cacophony of the civil wars. Central will church state relations and questions about the nature and authority of the clerical calling and the clerical estate. Central for the earlier period will be the confrontation between Laudianism and its various others and critics and later between main stream puritans the more radical sects and Quakers. Obviously the relation between religion and politics will feature but this is not a course about political history.

Spring 2011 Seminars and Workshops

ENGL 303-1 Graduate Fiction Workshop
Tony Earley
(Thursdays, 2:30-5:00 p.m.)

Description Forthcoming

ENGL 304-01 Graduate Poetry Workshop
Kate Daniels
(Wednesdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

This is an intensive workshop in poetry writing. Students are expected to complete 10-12 new poems (or the equivalent) over the course of the semester, or to engage in extensive revision of the poems in the thesis. Reading list: Individual volumes of poetry by the poets who will visit campus as part of the Visiting Writers Series, including Frank Bidart, Jericho Brown, Ciaran Carson, Mark Jarman, and Bobby Rogers. Several of these writers will visit class. In addition, we will read several essays on relevant issues in contemporary poetry and poetics, as they arise from the work under examination in the workshop. Extensive revision and regular conferencing with the instructor are expected.

For National Poetry Month in April, students (working individually or together) will devise projects that are campus- or community-based. Documentation of these projects will be part of the portfolio due at semester’s end. Finally, collaborating with the Art Department, MFA poets will be asked to create brief texts for an on-campus art installation, that will be directed by Professor Mel Ziegler (see: www.vanderbilt.edu/myvu/news/2007/09/21/community-art-is-passion-of-new-studio-arts-chair-mel-ziegler.47322 )

ENGL 305-01 Graduate Nonfiction Workshop
Peter Guralnick
(Tuesdays, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

Limited enrollment. Admission to the workshop is by instructor permission, with re-enrollment by students who have previously taken the course subject to the same proviso. Interested students should register and contact the English Department about submitting a brief writing sample on an assigned topic, to be turned in before the December break.

This is a workshop on Creative Nonfiction, which revolves around the writing of the participants, with additional readings in work by such writers as Gay Talese, Gary Smith, Jack Kerouac, Wil Haygood, Rosanne Cash, and Alice Munro.

It will focus on issues of characterization, narrative technique, selectivity of detail, and angle of perception, with special emphasis on the profile – in other words, how to make a real-life story come alive in the same way that fictional narrative can.

This is a workshop in which we are all interdependent on each other's efforts.

Three major pieces of 2500-3000 words will be required, along with the possibility of some brief additional exercises. Every student in the course will critique each of the other students' papers in writing, and the class will consist primarily of constructive discussion of the work. Class participation is the second most important element of the class (after the writing itself), so attendance is of the highest importance. Most of all, the workshop is a kind of shared enterprise in which a mutual enthusiasm for writing (irrespective of the level of achievement) should make it engaging – and fun – for all. The only prerequisite is a commitment to effort and honest self-expression.

ENGL 307-01 Graduate Seminar
Why Write: Perspectives on Literary Creativity
Kate Daniels

(Mondays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

In this seminar designed for graduate students in creative writing, we will consider why people write poems, novels, plays, and short stories. What is the ancient and cross-cultural urge to express oneself creatively in written language all about? What is the function of the literary imagination in individual lives, as well as in larger social and cultural contexts? Finally, because this is a seminar for creative writers, we will ruminate on this question posed by Australian novelist Sue Woolfe: “What are people who sit in rooms making up stories doing with their minds?” We will essay responses by exploring three current approaches to understanding literary creativity: psychoanalysis, neuroscience, and (for lack of a better term at present) aesthetics. Reading for this part of the semester will include: Freud’s “The Creative Writer and Daydreaming” and “On the Mystic Writing Pad,” Jung’s “On the Relation of Analytical Psychology to Poetry,” Edmund Bergler’s “Unconscious Mechanisms in Writer’s Block,” The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and the Creative Brain, by Alice Flaherty, The Mystery of the Cleaning Lady: A Writer Looks at Creativity and Neuroscience, by Sue Woolfe, and several other essays and book excerpts..

During the second half of the semester, we will hear from writers themselves – George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, William Styron, Sylvia Plath, Joan Didion, Eudora Welty, Alice Walker et al – about why they (think they) write, and how they imagine the relationship of their “selves” to the texts they create. Of particular interest may be our inquiries into ideas about mental and physical illness and writing; addiction and writing; gender and writing; and confinement and writing. We will end the semester by critiquing two films that feature writers as main characters as a way of talking about some of the common ideas and stereotypes of writers and artists perpetuated by mass media.

ENGL 314-01 Seminar: 1600-1800
Theatre and Empire
Bridget Orr

(Wednesdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

This course is focused on the role of theater in the development (and contestation) of English/British ideologies of nation and empire in the long eighteenth century. We will be reading major dramatic works from Dryden to Inchbald, tracking the emergence and revision of late Stuart, Tory, Whig, Patriot, Walpolean, radical and Pittite defences and critiques of colonialism. But rather than reading the texts solely as vehicles for particular Court/factional or party positions, we shall consider generic changes, including the rise and fall of heroic, pathetic and sentimental modes; the emergence of pantomime, ballad-opera and musical comedy; and what Michael Ragussis calls multi-ethnic spectacles, in the theatrical construction of national and imperial spectators. Our inquiries will be informed by the ancient question as to why Georgian dramaturgy seems to fall away so sharply from the achievements of Restoration playwrights despite the cultural centrality of theatre throughout this period.

ENGL 320-01 Studies in American Literature
Dana Nelson
Democratic Frontiers
(Mondays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Where does democratic power originate? Where does it abide? What contains and guards it?   Who exercises it and by what right? Is its exercise inevitably through sovereignty, singular and unified through symbol, formal government or representative actor? Or can it be generated—not just effectively but maybe ethically—in plurality, collaboratively, as a commons? These are not just theoretical questions, addressed by theorists of democracy from Schmitt and Agamben to Derrida, Hardt and Negri; they are historical too. In this course, after touring through some recent interdisciplinary work that rethinks the history of sovereignty in the early years of nation, we’ll investigate how early US literature can help us animate historical questions about US democracy, and suggest how it fleshes out some recent theorizing about constituent power, or the power of the multitude, while challenging us to think beyond familiar categories. We’ll pay especial attention to frontier literature, for what it has to tell us both about how more equalitarian practices were being represented as “pre-political” and “savage” in the early nation, and for how those practices continued showing up well into the nineteenth-century. And we’ll think about theories, histories and practices of communing and their relation to alternative democratic practices.

Fictional texts we’ll read probably include: Crevecoeur, Letters from an American Farmer, Brackenridge, Modern Chivalry, Cooper, Pioneers, Bird, Nick of the Woods, Kirkland A New Home, Who’ll Follow?, Ridge, Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta, Delany Blake, or the Huts of America, and Davis,Waiting for the Verdict.

We’ll read history by Woody Holton, Terry Bouton, Christian Fritz, Reeve Huston, Laura Edwards and Ron Formisano; political theory by some of the above and Melissa Orlie, Suzette Hemberger and Sheldon Wolin, and assorted literary critics like Jennifer Greiman and Mark Rifkin.

ENGL 337B-01 Introduction to Literary Theory
Robert Barsky
Colonialism, Postcolonialism and Multiculturalism
(Mondays, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

This course will survey central postcolonial theories as a way of thinking about some crucial issues relating to the postcolonial and multicultural experiences, and the issues raised by the integration of people into a host country subsequent to significant upheaval in their country of origin. Along the way, we will examine the implications of colonial encounter, and formation of idea "post-colonial" culture, particularly in a multicultural urban setting. Subjects include language, freedom and agency, gender roles, representation of space, relation between power and narrative. By comparing details of the legal procedure leading to immigrant or refugee status to the experiences recounted in the fictional texts, we will also have occasion to discuss the conflicting images that the society projects onto its ethnic groups, and the effects they have upon individuals attempting to find their way “home” in fiction and in life.

ENGL 355-01 Special Topics in English and American Literature
Cinema and the Thics of Desire: Love, the Other , and the Body in the Film Image
Sam Girgus
(Tuesdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Cinema and the Ethics of Desire: Love, the Other, and the Body in the Film Image

The relationship of ethics to love, sexuality, and the body in American and international cinema as seen through the writings and thought of leading modern thinkers including Freud, Kristeva, Irigaray, Ricoeur, and Levinas.* The course will consider the body on film as the condition of the ethical relationship to the other. The course will propose a systematic methodology based on psychoanalysis and modern ethics for studying film as a heterogeneous “cinetext,” meaning a complex art form of vision and sound. We will examine such interconnected themes as time and the feminine; the maternal body and the ideology of love; sex and redemption; subjectivity, the law, and the other; paternal power and the missing male. We will concentrate on studying the relationship between the art of the film image (cinematography, editing, sound etc.) and the themes of the body and ethics, often in the contexts of national social and cultural ideologies. The course will be geared for both beginning and advanced students. We will choose a workable number of films for study from a wide range of diverse films from different national cinemas and periods, potentially including for example, selections from the modernist works of Antonioni, Fellini, Bergman, Chereau, and Bunuel; classics by such American directors as Ford, Capra, Hawks, Scorsese, Allen, Lee, Lynch, and Eastwood; the innovative cinema of Almodovar, Oshima, Del Toro, Inarritu, among others; historic and current women directors such as Ida Lupino, Julia Dash, Agnes Varda, Debra Granik, and Lisa Cholodenko; and various adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays. We also will consider studying films that test the increasingly porous line between the sexualized screen body and the soft pornography of American popular culture today.

*Suggested critical and theoretical readings will include writings by Kelly Oliver, Tina Chanter, Ewa Ziarek, and Richard Kearney, among others.

ENGL 355-02 Special Topics in English and American Literature
Hortense Spillers
Black Male Writers: The Troika Plus One
(Thursdays, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

“Black Male Writers: The Troika Plus One”: Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and James Baldwin might arguably be thought of as the major African-American writers of the post-World War II period and as a result, the chief voices of a black post-modernism; the youngest member of this literary combination, David Bradley, writing in the wake of his “elders,” shows traces of that past, as well as strides toward new ground. This course is devoted to a study of these figures and the “anxieties of influence” that make it possible for us to read them as a kind of “visionary company.”

 Fall 2010 Seminars and Workshops

 ENGL 303 Graduate Fiction Workshop
Nancy Reisman
(Tuesday, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

The central goal of this graduate fiction workshop is to help graduate writers further develop their art and refine their aesthetics. This is primarily a studio course: the participants’ work-in-progress will serve as key course texts. We’ll also read and discuss published works of fiction (novels as well as short stories) and craft essays. As workshop writers present fiction-in-progress, we’ll consider artistic vision in relation to questions of form and structure, and the possibilities for invention and for reinvigorating tradition. We’ll explore the questions of perception, narrative stance, varieties of tension, dramatic and non-dramatic progression, voice, language, and other aspects of craft. What role does lyricism play? How do we represent various experiences of time? Conceptualize character? How might we consider conflicting and/or echoing movements within a given piece? Which ‘rules’ might be most interesting to explore the limits of, and which to break? Finally, how might we think about the relationships between and among our experiences of culture/cultural moments, the ways in which we tell stories, and the stories we tell? At the beginning of the semester, we’ll set up a schedule for presentation of fiction-in-progress, and throughout the term writers will also offer their written and oral responses to published works, and will meet with visiting writers.

 ENGL 304 Graduate Poetry Workshop
Rick Hilles
(Wednesdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Description Forthcoming

ENGL 306-01 Seminar in 16th Century Literature
Early Modern Masculinity
Lynn Enterline
(Wednesdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Designed as a proseminar to introduce first year students to an academic career of research and writing, the seminar will focus on the ideological, literary, rhetorical, affective, sexual, and institutional parameters of early modern masculinity.   Moving between sixteenth century, critical, and theoretical texts, we will consider throughout what a specifically literary perspective adds to the field of gender studies. Texts and authors may include: Ovid, Shakespeare, John Webster, Andrew Marvell; Sigmund Freud, Jacques Lacan, Jean Laplanche, Julia Kristeva, Judith Butler, Louis Althusser, Pierre Bourdieu; and a range of contemporary investigations into the history of emotion and sexuality in the early modern period.

 ENGL 307 Literature and the Craft of Writing
Traditional Poetic Form and Modern Practice
Mark Jarman
(Thursdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

We will study the prosody of a wide range of Modern and Contemporary poets, including Thomas Hardy, W. B. Yeats, Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, Marianne Moore, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Louise Bogan, Langston Hughes, Theodore Roethke, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Gwendolyn Brooks, Richard Wilbur, Donald Justice, Maxine Kumin, and Sylvia Plath. Required work will include writing in the verse forms of these poets, plus extended analysis of their techniques. Texts will be Timothy Steele’s All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing, Lewis Turco’s The Book of Forms, and Derek Attridge’s Poetic Rhythm, an Introduction.

 ENGL 318-01 Seminar in Victorian Literature
Sensation and Sexuality in Victorian Britain
Carolyn Dever
(Mondays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Please note that reading assignments for this seminar are available on OAK with the first assignment to be completed by the first session.

This course will address questions of embodiment, eroticism, and representation in Victorian “sensation fiction,” including novels that sample the tropes—thrills, chills, and mysteries—of sensationalism in the more conventional framework of mid-century realism. Setting the stage for the semester’s inquiry is a pair of texts—Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White and W.T. Stead’s The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon—that establish sexual mystery as a form of narrative epistemology and also as a vexed material practice. Additional primary readings for the course will include Emily Brontë’s WutheringHeights, Charles Dickens’s Our Mutual Friend, Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, Ellen Wood’s East Lynne, and Trollope’s The Small House at Allington. The semester’s conclusion will include Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Stoker’s Dracula, and Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, read in tandem with their near contemporary, Freud’s Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. I will assign additional historical, critical, and theoretical readings in order to underscore both the materiality of Victorian sexuality, and the elliptical narrative epistemologies that Victorian culture employs both to mark the body and to conceal it.

ENGL 320-01 Studies in American Literature
Three African American Modernists: James Weldon Johnson, Jean Toomer, and Langston Hughes
Vera M. Kutzinski
(Thursdays, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

For most of the twentieth century, the ideology of modernism has defined African American writing as auto-ethnography and separated it from so-called high (white) modernism in the U.S. In this seminar, we will explore the lives and works of three prominent members of the Harlem Renaissance to analyze how exactly the term “African American” relates to “modernism,” that is, how each term is transformed when brought into contact with the other. We will read comprehensively: poetry, fiction, autobiographies, letters, and translations (in Hughes’s case). Our goal will be to discern how each of the three authors figured his own self (or selves) in relation both to the literary/cultural establishment(s) and to the larger society. The main question for this seminar is how aesthetics and politics intersect in the imaginative work of literary representation and in critical and theoretical inquiry. Readings: Hughes, The Big Sea; I Wonder as I Wander; Collected Poems;Remember Me to Harlem (Letters); Johnson, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; Collected Poems; God’s Trombones; Black Manhattan; Along this Way; Toomer, Cane; The Wayward and the Seeking; Complete Poems. Requirements: Weekly 500-word response papers; one oral presentation on relevant scholarship; one final paper (15-20 pages). Note: The first meeting is on August 26. I will email a syllabus to anyone who is pre-registered for the course a week prior to that date.

ENGL 321-01 Studies in Southern Literature|
“The New Southern Studies”
Michael Kreyling
(Tuesdays, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

First, it isn’t called “southern literature” any longer. It’s “The New Southern Studies.” Whether the name change signifies a real difference, a “turn” in the field, of not is the central question of the seminar. We have Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury to heed; she didn’t think changing the name Maury Compson to Benjamin would help: “Name aint going to help him. Hurt him, neither. Folks dont have no luck, changing names.”

What I plan to do is this: arrange a group of texts representing the canon in southern literature/NSS, and approach them in each meeting of the seminar from the ancient and the modern points of view. Some of these entries will take more than one meeting.

The seminar schedule will probably look something like this list:

William Gilmore Simms, The Yemassee (or another of his antebellum historical romances). Discussion will circulate through basic theories of the historical novel (Lukacs) and nationalism (Benedict Anderson).

Thomas Dixon, The Clansman. The romance of Reconstruction. A primer in post-bellum politicized narrative. David Blight, Race and Reunion. Early theories in the “new” science of sociology (William Graham Sumner). Plessy v. Ferguson.

Booker T. Washington (Up From Slavery) and W. E. B. Du Bois (The Souls of Black Folk). Uplift, activism, African American masculinity. Approaches by Houston Baker and Riché Richardson.

Twelve Southerners, I’ll Take My Stand. Regionalism.

William Faulkner, Go Down, Moses. The major figure as political piñata: Was Faulkner part of the Civil Rights movement?

William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom! The greatest novel written by an American -- in the same year with Gone With the Wind – the most popular novel written by an American.

Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel and its 50th anniversary. And Katherine Stockett, The Help: the knock-off South. Memory, memorialization.

Madison Smartt Bell, All Souls’ Rising. The global south.

The south on film: D. W. Griffith, Birth of a Nation; David Selznick, GWTW; Lars Von Trier, Manderlay; Kevin Wilmott, C.S.A.; and others.

Dorothy Allison, Bastard Out of Carolina. Shelby Lee Adams, The True Meaning of Pictures. Trash, class, exploitation.

I suggest that, over the summer, anyone interested read some of the titles in the early weeks of the semester (The Yemassee, The Clansman, I’ll Take My Stand) and some of the titles I see as important but in the supporting cast: The Help, GWTW. The films too would make a good summer series.

 ENGL 355-01 Special Topics in English and American Literature
Early Cinema 1893-1920
Paul Young
(Tuesdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

Please contact Prof. Young directly about screenings and readings prior to first seminar session

This seminar treats the period between the first projected film screenings in the United States (1895-1896) and the regularization of production, distribution, and exhibition in place in the US (as well as Western Europe, Russia, Japan, and India) by 1920. Our focus will oscillate between the medium itself during these formative years and the cultural concerns to which cinematic discourse spoke: mechanization, industry, and urban experience; the growing public presence of women; and the racial, ethnic, and regional differences that problematized "American identity" even as the cinema identified (nearly) all Americans as potential spectators. No prior knowledge of film is required, but participants should be prepared to read and view widely outside of class in order to gain proficiency in reading film styles and techniques more rapidly. Requirements will include weekly screenings and readings, student presentations, a midterm analysis exercise, and a final seminar paper.

HIST 344 A (Dual List with ENGL) Studies in Modern England
British Identities at Home and Away in the long 19th Century
James Epstein
(Thursdays, 12:10-3:00 p.m.)
Note Change of Meeting Day

This course is designed to introduce graduate students to recent works of British social, political, cultural, and literary history, focussing on constructions of identities (national, imperial, gender, class, urban, rural, etc.) during the long 19th century. Particular emphasis is placed on how collective identities were shaped through interchange between metropolitan and colonial sites. The course also seeks to link secondary works to the reading and interpreting of contemporary works. Readings include key works by historians such as Linda Colley, Catherine Hall, and Judith Walkowitz, by literary and cutltural critics such as Simon Gikandi and Raymond Williams, and works by writers such as Jane Austen, William Cobbett, Mary Seacole, and Thomas Carlyle.

HIST 343 (Dual List with ENGL) Studies in Early Modern English History
Religion, culture and politics in post reformation England
Peter Lake
(Wednesday, 6:10-9:00 pm)

The course will examine the interaction between religious change and politics in the period after the reformation. The focus will be on the Elizabethan and early Stuart periods. Emphasis will be given to questions of ‘political culture’; the ways in which the peculiar exigencies of the Elizabethan regime, in Collinson’s phrase ‘the Elizabethan exclusion crisis’, led to various experiments in the ways in which politics was conducted. Central here will be the notion of the monarchical republic of Elizabeth 1 and the politics of popularity and the various monarchical reactions thereby provoked. The doings of both Catholics and Puritans will be examined and a wide range of primary sources will be consulted. Various literary texts will also be used.

Spring 2010 Seminars and Workshops

ENGL 303-01 Graduate Fiction Workshop
Tony Earley
(Wednesdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)
Description Forthcoming

 ENGL 304-01 Graduate Poetry Workshop
Kate Daniels
(Mondays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

*This is an intensive workshop in poetry writing. Students are expected to complete 10-12 new poems (or the equivalent) over the course of the semester. We will use the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Third Edition, as a base text for the class. In addition, we’ll read individual volumes of poetry by the poets who will visit campus as part of the Visiting Writers Series. Extensive revision and regular conferencing with the instructor are expected.

 ENGL 305-01 Graduate Nonfiction Workshop
Peter Guralnick
(Tuesdays, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

This is a graduate workshop in Creative Nonfiction with a particular emphasis on the profile and long-form narrative piece. Three major pieces will be required, along with some brief additional exercises. Every student in the course will critique each of the papers in writing, and the class will consist primarily of constructive discussion of the work. In addition there will be readings of work by such writers as Gay Talese, Gary Smith, Janet Malcolm, Jonathan Lethem, Joseph Mitchell, Jack Kerouac, W.C. Heinz, Louis Menand, and Alice Munro. Much of the focus of discussion will be on issues of characterization, narrative technique, selectivity of detail, and angle of perception -- in other words, how to make a real-life story or profile come alive in much the same way that fictional narrative can. The implicit bond between reader, writer, and subject will also provide a jumping-off point, along with the proverbial Rashomon-like nature of truth. Most of all, the workshop should be seen as a kind of shared enterprise in which a mutual enthusiasm for writing should lead to discussion that is as wide-ranging as it is lively and engaging.

ENGL 307-01 Literature and Craft of Writing
Frost and Stevens, Their Craft and Influence
Mark Jarman
(Thursdays, 2:10-5:00 p.m.)

Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens are two of America’s greatest and most original poets and tower over their contemporaries in the twentieth century. As individuals and artists they could not appear more different. Frost presented himself to the world as a New England farmer, while Stevens was an executive with a major insurance agency in Hartford, Connecticut. Frost held various posts in universities and gave frequent readings of his work, barding around, as he called it. Stevens’ interaction with the American public was mainly as an insurance adjustor, one of his era’s best investigators of claims. Their poetry differed markedly as well. Frost’s poems reflect his persona as a Yankee agrarian, recording the voices and lives of country people in New Hampshire and Vermont. In his poetry, Stevens departed entirely from the drab world of business to celebrate the wildly imaginative and exotic in his unique verses, often about fantastic characters. Not only do they provide a contrast in their poetry, but in their professional careers. Yet both poets had much more in common than is apparent. Both encountered the thought of William James and George Santayana at HarvardUniversity in the 1890's. Both spent a long apprenticeship as poets before publishing their first books. Both were masters of traditional English verse, especially the blank verse line, but Stevens was one of the great innovators in American free verse, a course Frost never followed. Both were engaged by the modern dilemma of alienation.   Both saw poetry as an answer to the modern problem of religious belief.

Our course will examine the work of these two poets side by side, with a special emphasis on their craft and innovations by both poets. 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. You will be required to give a presentation to the class and to write a paper. Our texts will be the Library of America Editions of Robert Frost’s Poetry and Prose and Wallace Stevens’ Poetry and Prose. There will also be supplemental readings of more contemporary poets.

ENGL 307-02 Literature and Craft of Writing
Where the Girls Are: (Some) Contemporary Women Short Story Writers and their Influences
Nancy Reisman
(Tuesdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

This course will explore of the work of a range of late 20th and 21st century women story writers, their aesthetics, voices, and literary techniques; their generational and cultural moments; the sense of relationship, desire, and place within their work; their visions of the short story form; and their literary and non-literary influences. We’ll read work by Grace Paley, Alice Munro, Edna O’Brien, Angela Carter, Lorrie Moore, Edwidge Danticat, Deborah Eisenberg, and Jhumpa Lahiri, among others. Course projects will offer opportunities to engage with the art-making process are well as with various analytical considerations of these writers’ works.

ENGL 314-01 Seminar, 1660-1800
Ideas of Fiction
Jonathan Lamb
(Thursdays, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

There has been a further spate of theories of the novel in the last few years, with new books or essays by Catherine Gallagher, Michael McKeon, Nancy Armstrong, Alex Woloch and Candace Vogler, to name a few. One of the most interesting contributions was not directly concerned with the novel but with the nature of contract, specifically the original contract which, in the work of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau (for example) forms the basis of civil society. In her book, Wayward Contracts, Vicky Kahn explored the English Revolution as a collision between two radically different kinds of narrative: the story of feudal obligation and the story of foundational consent.   When the latter supervened and became the basis of English history in the eighteenth century, a very close liaison was produced between politics and poetics, Kahn argues, because a fiction had managed to transfigure not only the nature of politics but also the nature of experience. She is not the first person to suggest that the novel comes about not as an attempt to reflect the empirical actuality of life, but as an exercise in fictionality itself. Gallagher and Lynch both argue that fiction is concerned with fiction, not with the real, and that it is its quality of being made up, not of being empirically accurate, which appeals to the reader. But what if this were true not just of the novel, but of all the business of civil society? Often in Robinson Crusoe we find the hero saying things such as, `As I imagined it, so it was,’ or dreaming the next phase of his life on the island before it actually happens. Is it the law of imagination we ought to be invoking, and not the standard of empirical actuality? Have we been reading novels the wrong way round?

Aims:

Well if we have, how might we begin to reread novels? The course will be divided in two parts. The first will negotiate theories of fiction, from Samuel Johnson to Candace Vogler, with Kahn’s provisos in mind, to see if we can form an idea of the preposterous kind of novel, and what that would entail for the characters within it, as well as the readers of it. This will require making some basic distinctions between fiction, history and romance; also between characters, persons and authors. In the second half, I want each student to propose a novel that exhibits some of these preposterous characteristics, ranging for their examples between the seventeenth and twenty-first centuries.

ENGL 325-01 Seminar in Modern British and American Literature
Comparative Modernisms
Mark Wollaeger
(Wednesdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

The course aims to provide an introduction to modernism attentive to the recent global/transnational turn in modernist studies. As currently conceived, it should be titled Modernisms: Genealogical and Comparative. The genealogical axis will begin in two “origins”: Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (1857) and Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil (1857), often described as the progenitors of modern fiction and modern poetry respectively. From these beginnings we will move forward through some major English-language works by Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, and T. S. Eliot (The Good Soldier,Ulysses, early Eliot up through The Waste Land). Once into twentieth-century British modernism, we will push further out along the comparative axis (opened already by the movement from England to Ireland) by reading Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway alongside Ahmet Tanipar’s The Time Regulation Institute, a Turkish comic novel. We will also loop back to Ulysses via some Japanese experimental fiction, including Ito Sei’s “Streets of Fiendish Ghosts,” and possibly by some Indian Anglophone literature. We will also read significant theoretical work underpinning the global turn, from Benjamin’s essays on Baudelaire (e.g., “Paris, Capital of the Nineteenth Century”) to more recent work by theorists of cosmopolitanism, transnationalism, and comparativity (e.g., Anthony Appiah, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Fredric Jameson, Jonathan Culler, Franco Moretti). Rather than require a long seminar paper at the end, this course will culminate in two shorter pieces (ten and five pages) designed as talks and seminar position papers for submission to the Modernist Studies Association Convention, which meets every fall, and will also require a variety of short papers and presentations during the semester

ENGL 355-01 Special Topics in English and American Literature
The Other Latino: Contemporary Latino Literature
Lorraine Lopez
(Mondays, 3:30-6:00 p.m.)

Latino literature consists of poetry and prose written by American authors of Hispanic heritage who have been inculcated by the U.S. experience, who write in English, and who self-identify as Latinos. While seeking to honor the diversity within this diversity, this seminar focuses on the vibrant new writings by U.S. Latinos--Chicanos, Puerto Ricans, Cuban Americans, and Dominican-Americans, whose work is an important component of mainstream American culture. Authors whose work we will investigate include Junot Diaz, Helena Maria Viramontes, Stephanie Elizondo-Griest, Daniel Chacon, Sergio Troncoso, Cristina Garcia, and Julia Alvarez, and topics we will cover are cultural hybridity, post-Movement identity, borderlands theory, gender dynamics, and popular religiosity.

ENGL 355-02 Special Topics in English and American Literature
Print Culture and Literary Production
Dahlia Porter
(Thursdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

In the opening section of The Dunciad, Alexander Pope descries the endless stream of “Journals, Medleys, Merc’ries, Magazines” issuing from Grub Street, home to publishers, booksellers, aspiring poets, and impoverished hack writers. Pope’s concern, like many of his generation, stemmed from the rapid expansion of the universe of print—an ever-expanding world in which authors and readers acquired new roles, literature became a business, and the locus of literary authority was continually up for grabs. If Pope responded to these new formations with satire (and a lawsuit again Curll for publishing his letters), by 1815 Wordsworth had come upon a different solution: every original author, he argued, “had the task of creating the taste by which he is to be enjoyed.” The world of print might be used to an author’s advantage; the only trick was figuring out how. This course will examine the central questions raised by a new awareness (in authors, readers, editors, and publishers) of the power and potential of print in the 18th and 19th centuries. We will begin with a survey of recent criticism to establish the scholarly conversation and pinpoint some useful methodological approaches (book history, word and image studies, material culture, new historicism). We’ll then devote several weeks to a trio of significant eighteenth-century publishing projects: Pope’s Dunciad, Richardson’s Pamela, and Johnson’s Dictionary. After working through a matrix of conceptual and technical issues with these case studies, we’ll shift our attention to the formal and generic innovations of Romantic era. Coupling theory, criticism, and primary texts, we’ll consider topics ranging from ekphrasis (Blake as engraver and poet); paratexts (prefaces, illustrations, and interludes in Darwin and Smith); annotation (footnotes in Owenson’s novel The Wild Irish Girl and Southey’s oriental tale Thalaba the Destroyer); collection (museums, miscellanies, and Lyrical Ballads); celebrity (the wildly popular Lord Byron); periodicals and reviews (James Hogg and Blackwood’s magazine); and the death of the author (quite literally, in Shelley’s Adonais).

ENGL 355-03 Special Topics in English and American Literature
Cosmopolitanism Otherwise: African American and Caribbean Women's Border Crossings
Ifeoma Nwankwo
(Tuesdays, 12:30-3:00 p.m.)

This course will center on the ways Black women word artists have narrated, represented, and theorized transnational border crossing during three key eras in African Diaspora history: Pre-Emancipation; New Negro Renaissance; the Contemporary Period (1980-present). What do they identify as the drivers behind and the key positive or negative outcomes of these journeys? What language or terminology do these women use to talk about such movements? Do/Can we see recurring paradigms for enacting or discussing cross-national engagement? How do these conventions converge with or diverge from those foregrounded in contemporary scholarly discourse?

Through in-depth examinations of the treatment of the international in autobiography, fiction, poetry, scholarly writing, and music lyrics by African American, Caribbean and Afro-Latin American women, we will consider the benefits and the drawbacks of employing cosmopolitanism as a way of reading and discussing Black women’s cross-border movements. We will explore questions such as: What is the history of cosmopolitanism as a concept? Who has used it and to what end? Why should we or should not use it to discuss/interpret Black women’s border crossings? What alternatives are there, and what are the benefits and limitations of these alternatives, especially as employed by scholars? Are there analytical maneuvers that the concepts of Diaspora, The Black Atlantic, Pan-Africanism, and Third World Feminism allow us to make that cosmopolitanism does not, or vice versa?

The syllabus is divided into units. Each unit represents a particular category of transnational movement (e.g. migration) or destination (e.g. “Africa”). Each unit’s reading list includes at least one text from each of the following categories: literature, history, literary criticism, and literary theory. The course requirements, plainly stated, are: class participation, position papers, discussion leading, and final paper. All students are expected to come to each class with a brief (3-4 page) position paper on the day’s readings and be ready to use it as a basis for engaging in dialogue with classmates. In addition, for each class session, one student will be responsible for not just leading discussion, but rather for inspiring a vibrant discussion of the readings.

Other Courses of Interest

 FRENCH 395
“Crime, Punishment and Confession”
Robert Barsky
(Thursdays 3:10-5:30 p.m.)

This course, to be taught in English, combines primary works of literature written in the 19th and 20th centuries with secondary critical works which address concerns of the law and literature movement from various perspectives. First, we will survey the field by examining some of the foundational texts used in the “field” of literature and law. We will then look to issues relating to the community that adjudicates in both literature and law, raising issues of interpretation, reader response, and pre-conceived notions about fields and disciplines. With some theoretical and literary material in hand, we will then look to issues raised in feminism as they relate to both the legal and the literary fields.

Finally, we shall discuss the problem of ‘constructing a productive other’

as it applies to both author-hero relations in fiction, and individual-claimant relations in law.

There will be some secondary themes developed throughout this course. First, we will discuss the process of narrative construction in literature and law, which essentially refers to the transformation of inner experience into narrative through relations with the other. Second, we will evaluate narrative strategies in literature and law with an aim to understanding the production and reproduction of legitimate language and the economy of linguistic exchange. Third, we will survey various approaches to 'outsider law' and its contemporary application. Fourth, we will have recourse to categories such as 'situatedness,' 'answerability,' and 'author-hero' relations as a means of discussing literatures of confession. Finally, we will discuss the implications of social discourse theory for the study of literature and law as a means of finding themes and concerns which are common to both domains

 


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