Extended Descriptions-Graduate

Fall 2019

English 610R: Composition Pedagogy (University Writing Directors)

English 610 introduces students to current rhetoric and composition theory and pedagogy, paying particular attention to how these ideas influence the teaching of college writing. In this class, students will explore principles and theories they already have experience with and will discover new concepts about writing and teaching writing. The goal of this class is to help students become an effective writing teacher committed to theoretically sophisticated, reflective, and professional teaching. 

 

English 612R: Rhetoric as Democratic Deliberation (Greg Clark)

This course examines selected texts in the history of rhetoric from Plato and Aristotle through 20th-century rhetorical theorists and contemporary scholars of democratic rhetoric in the United States. Rhetoric was first theorized and taught to support the first democratic experiment of cooperative self-government in ancient Athens. In concept and practice, it continued to develop as subsequent democratic structures developed through the history of Western culture. However, in most of those experiments “rhetoric” soon came to mean the propagandistic speech and writing of demagogues who sought to undermine democracy. This class will study rhetoric through that history to examine how it was designed to support democratic cooperation and how it has been regularly redirected to the work of manipulation. Our project will be to understand which habits of communication support democratic values and which ones undermine them. To support that study, we will draw on our readings as well as materials now being developed by a team of scholars in rhetorical theory, including Professor Clark, associated with the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. As the 2020 election approaches, those materials will be used to remind elected officials, candidates, and journalists of the values and habits of cooperative communication that will support the nation’s stated democratic aspirations. Coursework will include reading, research, and writing to support class discussion of the course project and individual progress toward a final researched paper.

English 620R: Otherness and the Middle Ages (Miranda Wilcox)

White supremacists have hijacked the Middle Ages, mobilizing “medieval” symbolism and long-discredited historical narratives to renew their racist nationalist ideologies. Fueled by a toxic nostalgia for an imagined era of ethnic homogeneity, these nationalist and racist discourses distort the multicultural and interconnected medieval world. To combat the toxic fantasy that the Middle Ages is mono-cultural, mono-racial, and mono-religious, this class will delve into the contours of medieval boundaries of difference. We will examine medieval British alterity by tracing how they imagined others in their narratives in terms of ethnicity, social class, gender, and religious affiliation. These stories of otherness will illuminate how we continue to construct boundaries of difference in our contemporary narratives and how we employ the Middle Ages as a mirror of difference for the present. We will also discuss how modern academic disciplines, including medieval studies and English studies, are entangled in the racism and sexism of European imperialism. Awareness of past and present complexities shapes a more inclusive and diverse future. All are welcome to join our narrative adventure. No expertise in medieval languages is required. Translations will be provided for all medieval texts. We will study well-known medieval texts, including Beowulf and The Canterbury Tales, and less well-known texts, including The Siege of Jerusalem and Sir Isumbras.

English 626R: Early American Bestsellers (Mary Eyring)

In this seminar, we will study the social lives of books, broadsides, pamphlets, criminal narratives, and other popular texts that captivated readers in America before 1860. We’ll explore how these objects were created, where they traveled, where and how they were read (or not read—perhaps displayed, or written upon, or illustrated, or given away, or destroyed), and how they come into our hands now. Some of the figures we will study are well known; others (like the pirate William Fly or the popular novelist E.D.E.N. Southworth) are less so, but in each case our focus will be on texts as artifacts that give us insights into the people who wrote, edited, printed, promoted, condemned, annotated, peddled, purchased, and shared reading materials in the early American and Early National periods. This rich history in authorial economies will also equip us to explore the future of the book and reading in America.

English 628R: Memory, Nostalgia, and Trauma in Contemporary American Lit. (Trent Hickman)

In recent years and in the wake of postmodernist inquiry, critical attention has turned anew not only to the study of how we represent the past but of memory itself–how it is formed, how it is transformed, and how it is deformed by nostalgia and trauma. Even as scholars refocus this discussion in newer terms to speak of the past, they still frequently find themselves concerned in many cases with the representations of the past and memory in its various forms, be they individual, familial, collective, national, environmental, or biological. Our course will familiarize you with some of the seminal theoretical texts on this return to studies of memory in its various forms, introduce you into some of the debates surrounding them, and finally ask you to identify how contemporary American literature incorporates representational strategies which speak to these concerns.

English 629R: Nation and Migration, Odysseys and Exile (Aaron Eastley)

Immigrants and exiles feature prominently among modern writers—both those of the traditionally-defined Modern periods in Britain and America, and among those who might be included under the aegis of a planetary modernist perspective. Movement away from one’s native land prompts, of course, deep soul-searching and potentially-profound self-fashioning. It can provide intellectual and aesthetic freedom, but it is also politically suspect, especially in the eyes of nationalists who demand certain loyalties of writers. This course will consider issues of nation and migration: the incredibly varied but intriguingly interconnected experiences of writers from across the modern Anglophone literary world who have left their native lands, yet whose relationships to those places have constituted highly ambivalent, often central but seldom exclusive, topic focuses of their work. We will first engage in a study of the rich body of theoretical work dealing with nation and migration issues, then further explore those issues in and through selections from the literary work of writers such as James Joyce, V. S. Naipaul, Buchi Emecheta, Wole Soyinka, Monica Ali, Seamus Heaney, and Zoe Wicomb. This will set the stage for a culminating, in-depth comparative analysis of the lives and work of two of the more intriguing immigrant/exiles of recent times: St. Lucian/Trinidadian/American poet and playwright Derek Walcott, and Welsh/English/American poet and short story writer Leslie Norris.

English 630R: Intro to Digital Methods for Teaching and Scholarship (Billy Hall)

“Digital humanities,” as one prominent book on the topic summarizes, “is born of the encounter between traditional humanities and computational methods.” This English 630 theory course explores how the encounter between humanistic inquiry and computational methods impacts our scholarly and pedagogical work in literary studies. The course does not require or assume experience and is meant to be introductory with respect to the practical applications of digital methods. We will focus on the history and theory of the field now called “digital humanities” as well as practical ways to incorporate digital methods into individualized research projects and pedagogy.

 


Winter 2020

English 520R: Poetic Meter in the British Imagination (John Talbot)

After a review the basic principles of poetic meter, pupils will be introduced to advanced principles of prosody, with emphasis on meter as one of the hiding-places of poetry’s power. Whereafter: a survey of both current and perennial questions (e.g., how notions of meter have changed through history; the relation of Greek and Roman to English verse forms; how poetic meter has been thought to relate to notions of nationhood, aesthetics, theology, class, gender, and tradition). Primary readings from three-score poets from Beowulf to present, and theorists from the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries; secondary readings including four recent major monographs and various articles. Oral presentation in a mini-conference, as a stage in the composition of a formal conference-length paper.

English 617R: Creative Writing Theory (Joey Franklin)

We will identify and study significant theories of creative writing, primarily in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction.​ Readings will include several major theorists in each genre, as well as theorists whose work focuses more on creative writing and creativity in general. We will look at a variety of issues, including, but not limited to ethics, aesthetics, privilege, originality, and imitation as they relate to creative writing, and students will produce a seminar-length paper that can serve as the first draft of an MFA thesis critical introduction.

English 621R/622R: British Romanticism and the Victorians (Paul Westover)

This course can be included on your program of study as either English 621 or English 622. It’s an exploration of how the Victorians read, theorized, canonized, remediated, and monetized Romanticism. Due to my own research interests, it will place special emphasis on material culture, book history, and commemoration, but students will be able to pursue research projects of their own proposing. They will engage with important scholarship in the field and share their findings in both written and oral presentations. Students specializing in American literature are welcome—Romantic afterlives flourished across the Atlantic—as are students in creative writing and rhetoric.

English 628R: Borderwaters of American Literature (Brian Roberts)

Guided by a water-oriented alternative to Gloria Anzaldúa’s “borderlands” paradigm, this course on US-America’s literary borderwaters focuses on water- and island-oriented writing by US writers ranging from the early twentieth century’s canonical modernists to current writers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Geographically, the course ranges from writers hailing from the continental United States (Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, etc.) to writers associated with the archipelago of islands claimed by the United States (Florence Frisbie of Puka-puka, Vernice Wineera of Aotearoa and Hawai‘i, John Kneubuhl of American Samoa and Hawai‘i, Tiphanie Yanique of the US Virgin Islands and NYC, Jesus Colón of Puerto Rico and NYC). A range of conceptual readings orients students on archipelagoes, oceans, and aqua-centric notions of the Americas.   

English 629R: Translation Studies and Literatures in English (Emron Esplin)

What can a course on translation studies offer a student of English? For starters, it will reveal that our literary canons are grounded on translated texts and that our very language changes as translated texts enter our literary traditions. “English” as a field of study relies heavily on the translation of ideas, theories, concepts, and literary texts from other languages. This course offers an introduction to various theories of literary translation and to the growing field of translation studies. We will examine several versions of key translated texts that form the center of literary study in English—e.g. the Bible, The Iliad, 1001 Nights—we will question the notions of translatability and fidelity, we will highlight the importance of paratextual materials, and we will challenge the hierarchical relationship between “originals” and translations. The final course assignment will allow both for projects that examine texts in two languages (e.g., a Spanish-language original alongside an English-language translation) and for projects that analyze multiple versions of one or more texts in English.

English 630R: Literary Soundscapes (Juliana Chapman)

Can a work of literature be noisy or quiet, musical or cacophonous? Do some literary works embed their own cinematic soundscape? How does reading with an awareness of sound (musical or otherwise) and silence relate to aural memory, audience reception, authorial composition, narrative structure, and interpretation? From classical to modern texts, authors frequently blur the lines between artistic fields, bringing sound, broadly conceived, and music, specifically, into their literary works, those ostensibly silent lines of text on a page.
Together we will read critical and literary works that engage the question of the sonic within the literary, and students will be asked to consider a work of their own choosing in light of the role of sound in the rhetorical, aesthetic, and interpretive work of literature. No prior experience with music or sound theory is required.

 

English 667: Expanding the Boundaries of the Personal Essay (Joey Franklin)

Joseph Epstein once called the essay “a pair of baggy pants into which nearly anyone or anything can fit.” We’ll test this definition by exploring a variety of unusual neighborhoods in the city of the personal essay, including, but not limited to hermit crab essays, graphicessays, third-person essays, video essays, and audio essays. We will read more traditional creative nonfiction alongside experimental work and explore topics both public and personal. We will use these model essays as guideposts for creating our own essays, and we’ll spend a good chunk of time reading and applying the most recent theories of nonfiction to published work as well as to our own. Students will write and workshop three essay projects during the course of the semester, lead class discussions and workshops, revise two essay projects as part of a final portfolio, and submit one essay from their portfolio to a literary magazine. We’ll also discuss professional development, literary publishing, grad school, teaching, and a variety of other topics apropos of the MFA life.

 

 


Fall 2020

English 610R: Composition Pedagogy (University Writing Directors)

English 610 introduces students to current rhetoric and composition theory and pedagogy, paying particular attention to how these ideas influence the teaching of college writing. In this class, students will explore principles and theories they already have experience with and will discover new concepts about writing and teaching writing. The goal of this class is to help students become an effective writing teacher committed to theoretically sophisticated, reflective, and professional teaching. 

ENGL 620R: Renaissance Devotional Lyric (Kim Johnson)

This course explores texts written in response to the religious, ecclesiological, and theological developments of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In particular, it examines the poetry of the Reformation and Post-Reformation era as a site of theological renegotiation and subversion. We will place the work of major lyric authors in the context of Reformation-era controversies involving representation, selfhood, textuality, and materiality to understand how literary texts of the period both reflect and inform the theological culture of the Renaissance.

ENGL 622R: Studying Victorian Studies (Jamie Horrocks)

This course will not be an introduction to Victorian literature and culture per se but an introduction to the study of Victorian literature and culture. We’ll be reading a handful of Victorian texts (by Dickens, Gaskell, C. BrontëC. Rossetti, Kipling, Wilde, Tennyson, Mayhew, and others) in order to get a broad sense of the subjects, styles, events, and questions that intrigued Victorian writers and readers. We’ll supplement this reading with criticism and theory demonstrating some of the critical approaches that modern scholars of Victorian studies have found useful (gender studies, post-colonialism, print culture, urban studies, transatlanticism, etc.). We’ll be reading these works to gain familiarity with the contours of discipline but also to think about the ways in which analytical arguments are formed around literary and cultural texts. Students will be encouraged, but not required, to structure their research and writing in this class so as to be able to participate in the INCS (Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Society) Conference, which will be held in SLC in 2021.  

ENGL 668R: Fiction Workshop (Steve Tuttle)

In this writing workshop, we will make a close reading of multiple models of contemporary fiction together with theoretical texts that will help us, collectively and individually, to better understand the discipline and craft of fiction writing. Students will submit at least three pieces of writing for workshop discussions and several less-formal writing assignments.  


Winter 2021

ENGL 622: Law and Contemporary British and Anglophone Literatures (Peter Leman)

In this seminar, we will examine contemporary British and Anglophone literatures in relationship to the field of Law and Literature. This field has been notoriously heterogeneous throughout its (relatively recent) history, with scholars positing a variety of configurations for relating the two disciplines: e.g., law as literature, law in literature, literature in law, literature as law, law and rhetoric, law and hermeneutics, etc. Though touching on some of the most important of these methods, we will draw heavily upon the late legal scholar Robert Cover’s insight that the law depends upon a deep structure of cultural narratives for its meaning. In thinking through the implications of this claim, we will read cultural narratives by Samuel Beckett, George Orwell, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, Brian Friel, Polly Stenham, and others, and consider how their works might be understood in relationship to privacy law, torts, emergency law, international law, constitutional history, and more. 

ENGL 630R: What Is the Song Saying? Music and/as Theory (Sharon Harris)

This course takes music and its texts as serious and dialogic modes of discourse and theorizing. Throughout the course, we will return to questions such as these: What is lost or gained when words are conveyed in a musical medium or vice versa? How do words and music communicate, both separately and together? Why, in a specific instance, might an author turn to music or a composer turn to words? What does it look like to interpret music and the texts that are a part of it? What are the differences between reading and hearing? What is meaning in music and in texts? What is the song saying? And, consequently, what are we saying?

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