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Fall 2018 and Spring 2019 Graduate Course Offerings



With the exception of the Proseminar, our graduate courses are designated as either research intensive or reading intensive (you can expect all of them to be writing intensive as well, no matter the designation). The difference between the two lies mainly in the kinds of writing assignments they require. 

A research intensive course will focus on research methodologies and writing and will culminate a final research-based paper that might be turned into a publishable article.

reading intensive course, by contrast, will primarily aim at coverage and culmination in a different sort of final project, for example, an annotated bibliography, likely with a sequence of shorter papers along the way.

We are trying to have balance between these two kinds of courses and in any given term and/or academic year. Please take these differences into consideration when you choose your courses.

Fall 2018

ENGL 8110 – Proseminar

Kathryn Schwarz
Wednesday 12:10pm-3pm

The proseminar provides an introduction to graduate studies through attention to practical, structural, and theoretical issues.  We will consider various accounts of the university as an institution, with emphases that range from its status as a corporate entity, to its disparate investments in futurity, to its history as a locus of dissent.  We will look closely at specific aspects of professionalization, drawing on the experience of invited guests to discuss such processes as the development of research questions, methodologies, and archives; preparation for comprehensive examinations; steps that lead to a dissertation project; and the stages through which an essay moves toward publication.  We will also expand our inquiries outward, to consider paradigms with implications not only for how we practice our academic work, but for how we inhabit the social world: ideology and cultural capital, discipline and precarity, community and consent.  As we move through the semester, students will have opportunities to assign texts – fictional, historical, critical, and/or theoretical – that represent the periods, forms, and approaches with which they are most concerned.

ENGL 8370 Studies in 18th Century British Literature:  Satire, Romance, Novel 1600-1800 (reading intensive)

Jonathan Lamb
Tuesday 12:10pm-3pm

Three genres that find a lot in common during the two hundred years separating the publication of Cervantes’s Don Quixote from Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey are satire, romance and the novel.  While these days it is usual to discover a mutual dependence between romance and the novel, and a growing division between the novel and satire, it was generally assumed in the eighteenth century that Cervantes had produced a satire of chivalric and pastoral romance that revealed the potential of realist fiction explored variously by Charlotte Lennox, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, and Jane Austen, among others.  I want to begin with a brief characterization the oldest of these three genres, satire, and then proceed to the other two, with the intention of suggesting an alliance between satire and romance that fuelled the satiric novels of, for instance, Fielding, Lennox and Sterne.  How it did this was not by any appeal to common standards of ethical behavior or the protocols of romantic love, but by inhabiting a disorder that was common to both genres, being passionate, highly imaginative, savage and sometimes crossing the border into madness.  As Swift says, `Every bright idea is furnished with its reverse,’ a truth illustrated by Hogarth in the Bedlam scene of the last plate of The Rake’s Progress, and by Swift in the amazing digression on `The Use and Improvement of Madness in a Commonwealth.’  What liberties does madness afford the author who exploits it?  What dangers stand in the way?

Sample Texts:  Satire: Juvenal (Satires 1 and 7); Gay, Trivia; Swift, Tale of a Tub; Pope, Rape of the Lock; Samuel Butler, Hudibras (the widow’s analysis of sexual love); Romance: Malory Morte d’Arthur (Lancelot and Guinevere); Ariosto, Orlando Furioso (Orlando’s frenzy and how his wits were recovered); Cervantes, Don Quixote (running mad allegedly for love).  Novel:  Fielding, Joseph Andrews; Mme de Lafayette, The Princess of Cleves; Sterne, Tristram Shandy; Eliza Haywood, Love in Excess; Charlotte Lennox, The Female Quixote; Mike Jay, The Influencing Machine. Criticism:  Northrop Frye, The Anatomy of Criticism; Henry James, The Art of the Novel; Michael McKeon, The Origins of the English Novel; Niklas Luhmann, Love as Passion; C.S. Lewis, The Allegory of Love; Kirk Freudenburg, The Cambridge Companion to Roman Satire; Dryden, Discourse concerning Satire.

ENGL 8410 Studies in Romantic and Victorian Literature: Law, Theatricality, and Romantic Literature (reading intensive)

Mark Schoenfield
Monday 12:10pm-3pm

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, cannot perform the self Elizabeth had declared for her. Flummoxed by Mr. Collins, Mrs. Bennett laments that an entail--a legal device devised to direct inheritance -results in no knowing which way an estate will go, performing her "nerves" for familial, if not public, consumption.  Francis Jeffrey, declaring the authority of his Edinburgh Review, grounds the journal on the legal authority or precedent and tradition, and on that authority, develops a legal practice grounding in his public court performance.  Throughout the romantic period, issues of justice, property, and individual rights developed simultaneously with romantic aesthetics, theorizations of narrative persuasiveness, and proliferation of genres of the novel, poetry, and periodical prose.  At the heart of this development is a problem of the self--at once a theatrical being and a legal fiction. We will explore authors such as Godwin, Wordsworth, Byron, Jane Austen, Mary Robinson, Walter Scott, P.B. Shelley, Mary Shelley, John Galt, and James Hogg, and consider how these authors engaged legal issues in their writing and how the pervasive legal cultures they inhabited shaped their works.

ENGL 8440 Studies in Comparative Literatures: Theories of the Vernacular (reading intensive and research intensive options)

Akshya Saxena
Monday 2:10pm-5pm (may be changed)

In comparative literary studies, the vernacular usually refers to a language, to a literary style, and to knowledges. From its use by Dante in the early fourteenth century, the vernacular has been associated with notions of the mother tongue, with something native, local, non-dominant, and even, indigenous. And so, scholars in the humanities have recently looked favorably on the vernacular as the means to challenge the oftentimes homogenizing and imperializing frameworks of global, transnational, and national analyses. But despite their antihegemonic resonances, ideas of the vernacular have also played a formative role in colonially inspired projects of modernity and modernization in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This course considers the hegemonic and anti-hegemonic histories, theories, and politics of the vernacular. We are interested in the radical democratic potential of the vernacular as well as in its coercive logics. Drawing on a few different literary traditions as well as on areas of study such as film, architecture, and art history, we will explore a variety of literary, visual, and political vernaculars. Readings will include selections both critical and literary: Dante Alighieri, Jacques Derrida, Miriam Hansen, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Johann Gottfried Herder, Zora Neale Hurston, Édouard Glissant, Benedict Anderson, Sheldon Pollock, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Vicente Rafael, Partha Chatterjee, and Mahasweta Devi among others.

ENGL 8450 Studies in early and 19th-Century American Literatures: Rituals of Belief and Practices of Law in the Americas (research intensive)

Colin Dayan
Thursday 2:10pm-5pm

This course will be an attempt to make sense of the relation between legal practice and spiritual belief in the Americas. From its beginnings law traded on the lure of the spirit, banking on religion and the debate on matter and spirit, corporeal and incorporeal in order to transfer the power of the deity to the corrective of the state. Few of the topics under consideration are peculiarly English; indeed most of them (slavery, civil death, penance, and possession) form part of the general history of the Western world. But our primary readings will be strictly limited to the eighteenth-and nineteenth-century British West Indies and the United States. Through a close analysis of literary fictions and that peculiar genre called “gothic,” we will deal with the emergence, orchestration and function of law and the sacred as a kind of epistemological double whammy that redefined persons and property, spirits and things. The process by which words (such as race, blood, sacrifice, redemption, and judgment) are specified and by which their precise meaning over time is determined will be crucial to our investigations.

Primary readings: selected legal cases and sermons; the Bible (Leviticus, First and Second Corinthians, Galatians, Romans); Charles Brockden Brown's Wieland; Melville's Pierre and Piazza Tales; Poe's Poetry and Tales and Eureka; Emerson's  Essays and Journals; Lydia Maria Child, A Romance of the Republic; Nathaniel Beverley Tucker,  George Balcombe; Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin; Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life.

Collateral readings: Locke, Essay on Human Understanding and Two Treatises of Government; William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England; Edward Long, The History of Jamaica; Jeremy Bentham,  The Panopticon Writings; De Tocqueville,  Democracy in America and  On the Penitentiary System in the United States; Thomas R.R. Cobb, An Inquiry into the Law of Negro Slavery in the United States; James Kent, Commentaries of American Law; Elsa Goveia,  The West Indian Slave Laws of the Eighteenth Century.


Spring 2019

ENGL 8138  Capitalism and Racialization

Alex Dubilet and Ben Tran
Wednesday 12pm-3pm

Capitalism and race are constitutive elements of the modern world. The exact nature of their interrelation has been a topic of a rich and ongoing interdisciplinary theoretical debate across the humanities and social sciences. This graduate seminar will explore the interactions between capitalism and race from multiple theoretical angles and across various historical and geographic sites. We will consider the ways in which the structures of capitalism have produced and enforced forms of racial ascriptions and processes of racialization – and the different ways that scholars have understood these processes. By engaging with diverse scholarship across literary studies, critical theory, black studies, history, and settler colonial studies, this seminar will introduce students to some of the most significant concepts of modern theoretical discourse, useful for research across different time periods, genres, and subdisciplines.

Topics to be covered during the semester include debates around Karl Marx’s theory of “primitive accumulation” and its racializing and gendering ramifications; Cedric Robinson’s articulation of racial capitalism and the black radical tradition; Michel Foucault’s theorization of biopower as a mode of dividing between those who are allowed to flourish and those who are marked for death; the debates on the relation between slavery and capitalism; the relation between racialization and surplus populations; as well as theories of coloniality and the decolonial imaginaries that seek to overturn it. In exploring these topics of ongoing interdisciplinary debate, the seminar will explore key theoretical perspectives, unpack their conceptual premises, and trace the requisite historical frameworks informing them. Throughout, we will ask after the different ways race has been theorized in relation to and in the ambit of liberal capitalist modernity.

ENGL 8351 – Studies in 20th and 21st century American literatures: African American Poetry

Vera Kutzinski                                   

ENGL 8442 – Media Studies  

Helen Shin     

ENGL 8331  Studies in Medieval and early-modern British Literature: Subject to Sexuality in the Early Modern Period.  (reading intensive)

Lynn Enterline

This course will approach the intersection between literature, culture, and sexuality from two angles: we will read a variety of theoretical and critical texts investigating issues of sexuality and fantasy in general alongside literature from the ancient world through the renaissance that challenges normative assumptions about erotic life.  As titles like Queer Philology, Wanton Words, Homoerotic Space, and Sexuality and Form suggest (among others), scholarship in the early modern period has been an important testing ground for sexuality studies for many years now, engaging widely with questions raised by movements in feminist theory, queer theory, gender studies, as well as psychoanalytic and historicist critique. We will read texts by Freud, Lacan, Laplanche, Kristeva, Althusser, Butler, Foucault, Bersani, Bataille and perhaps a few others; and do so in conversation with the many literary critics and scholars who have adopted and adapted theoretical positions from such writing to propose new accounts of early modern poetry, drama, and classicism. With respect to literary history, the course begins with Ovid’s unruly, but wildly influential, Metamorphoses and follows several strands of medieval and early modern engagement with the “polymorphously perverse” figures that characterize his poem—and, indeed, anticipate a number of contemporary ways of thinking. We will read the most important ancient and early modern literary genres in which sexuality makes a difference—epic, love lyric, minor epic, drama—while assessing the intersections among sexuality, rhetorical and dramatic practice, and poetic theory in Ovid, Petrarch, Louise Labé, Thomas Wyatt, Marlowe, Shakespeare, John Lyly, John Webster, Milton and Marvell. From cross-dressing to cross-voicing, early modern engagements with Ovidian mythography unleashed compelling fictions that are still with us, and are still defamiliarizing conventional erotic schemes.