Extended Descriptions-Graduate

 Spring 2018


 English 620R: Writing Revolution: Literature of the English Civil Wars and Interregnum (Jason Kerr)

The period of the English Civil Wars and Interregnum—roughly 1640-1660—involved an unprecedented explosion of print literature, its conflicts contested in the print-shop and bookstall as much as on the battlefield. In this course we will explore these conflicts through the literature they produced, construing “literature” broadly to include prose pamphlets on subjects political and religious alongside more traditionally literary works in prose and verse. In addition to writings by familiar figures like Milton, Marvell, and Dryden, we’ll read things like prophecies by women about public events, constitutional debates, subversive personal liturgies written in internal exile, letters from a woman defending her home against a siege, a religious polemic in the form of a treatise on fishing, and the most vicious sermon you’re likely to encounter. We’ll conclude by reading Milton’s Paradise Lost with an eye to its contemporary political and religious resonances.

English 629R: Transatlantic Literary Geography ( Paul Westover)

We have recently seen a “spatial turn” in literary studies, driven by new technologies, theoretical insights, and geographies of cultural history. The nineteenth century is an excellent place to explore this conceptual terrain. British Romantics developed literature grounded in place, to the point that reading and tourism became interwoven. American writers undertook analogous (sometimes rival) efforts to create literary landscapes. Writers of both nations aimed to theorize literary geography and catalog its features. Consequently, studying landmarks of Anglophone literature will convince us that literary geography is not in itself new; in fact, it was a major fascination of nineteenth-century culture.

English 630R: Environmental Humanities (Brian Roberts)

During the past few decades, a confluence of ecological and humanistic thought has culminated in the multidisciplinary field of the Environmental Humanities. This emergent field is attentive to the humanities’ potential relation to and impact upon multiple arenas: ecology, energy use, geological epochs, climate change, rising sea levels, nuclear testing, the planet’s carbon and nitrogen cycles, definitions of “wilderness,” interspecies relations, etc. Taking the journal Environmental Humanities as a point of entrance for introducing students to the conceptual, theoretical, and critical terms of the field, this course prepares students to bring literature into dialogue with environmental thought and materialities.

 

 

Fall 2018


ENGL 611R: Teaching Advanced Composition (University Writing Directors)

English 611 prepares students to teach advanced writing in the disciplines. Students apply to intern with an experienced instructor in one of the English Department’s advanced writing courses: Writing for the Arts and Humanities, Persuasive Writing, Writing in Education, Writing in the Social Sciences, and Technical Communication. The intern attends every class and team-teaches the course while taking a 1.5-credit class on writing in the disciplines. For the final project, students produce an online teaching portfolio to share with future employers.

English 616R: Research Methods in Composition (Amy Williams)

Composition researchers ask questions about why, where, when, what, and how people write. They answer those questions using a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods, including content and discourse analysis, archival and feminist research, genre and rhetorical analysis, case studies and ethnography. In this course, we will read a wide range of composition research studies and will evaluate the theoretical assumptions and practical concerns that motivate the researchers’ methodological choices. We’ll also explore how changes in contemporary writing practices, technologies, and environments are forcing writing scholars to reimagine traditional research methods and to adopt new methods for designing research questions, gathering and interpreting data, and presenting results. As part of this course, you will pose a novel research question and propose a research design that could answer your question.

English 620R: The English Renaissance: Continuities in Modern Film (Brandie Siegfried)

This course covers works by several influential Renaissance writers, including Spenser, Elizabeth I, Shakespeare, Raleigh, Jonson, Donne, Sidney, Wroth, Herbert, Cavendish, Milton, and several others.  You will also read segments from the 1611 King James Bible, a book that until very recently was the single most influential publication in English.  In this course, we will explore the religious, philosophical, and aesthetic aspects of Renaissance literature in relation to modern film avatars, giving special attention to Humanism, Reformation theology, and question of belief vs. knowledge.

English 621R:  Unholy Satire: Lampooning Religion in the Long Eighteenth Century (Brett McInelly)

The eighteenth century is recognized as a great age of satire. From gentle and lighthearted rebukes to candid and cutting attacks, satirists mocked individuals, ideas, and institutions as well as a myriad of social practices and attitudes. Even sacred subjects like religion did not escape the satirists’ view; in fact, a number of religious groups as well as particular beliefs and practices proved fertile ground for satiric critique, from Catholics and Quakers, to revivalist enthusiasm and the stoic preaching of the Anglican clergy. And such critiques materialized in verse, prose fiction, drama, and graphic prints. This course will examine the satiric treatment of religion in the Long Eighteenth Century, examining poems, novels, plays, and even graphic art that set out to mock religion and religiosity. We will situate our study by looking at prevailing attitudes toward satire during the period, its means, ends, and justifications, particularly as those means, ends, and justifications relate to a critique of something as personal as spiritual experience and as sacred, at least to many individuals, as religious belief and practice. We will consider how and why certain religious groups and practices invited public scrutiny and try to determine what effect such satire has on religion, both in its public perception and its private performance.

English 630R: Book History (Leslee Thorne-Murphy)

As digital innovation is changing how we gain access to texts, scholars are theorizing the various ways in which the very format of physical books has shaped our understanding of literature.  We will join them in discussing the material conditions involved in writing, producing, and circulating books, from the early codex (bound book) to today’s e-readers.  In this process, we will examine concepts of authorship and co-authorship, reception and reading practices, copyright and the ownership of ideas, print sociality, and distant reading. Book history is an interdisciplinary field that is still very much in the process of defining itself, making it a vibrant source of literary theory.

English 640, Studies in Folklore:  Fairy Tales and Agency in a Media-Saturated Society (Jill Rudy)

Folklore studies tradition, the artful expression we repeat and vary over time and space that shares knowledge and creates and maintains groups.  Tales are a particularly powerful form of tradition because of the ways people and stories call out to each other through every available communicative means for entertainment and instruction.  The academic terms for such calling out include intertextuality and intermediality.

What we seek to learn through fairy tale study corresponds with how agency and media interrelate.  For decades parents, educators, politicians, and producers have been concerned about how media may determine individual values and social behaviors.  Discomfort, if not alarm, about media influence, and intermedial fairy tales, instigates our conversation.  Fairy tales themselves are full of power relationships, influential action, and choices even though it seems that the fairy tale is prone to inevitability (things happen three times, or the protagonist will do what he or she is forbidden to do).  We will explore two big questions:  what could the study of agency offer our understanding of fairy tales as literary works in a media saturated society, and how can studying fairy tale and media enhance our understanding and use of agency?

English 667R: Creative Nonfiction Workshop (Pat Madden)

This course is a creative writing workshop focused on creative nonfiction, especially the essay, with a dip into the classics (Montaigne, Lamb, Hazlitt, etc.) and a heavier focus on contemporary experimental work (Leach, Passarello, Tevis, etc.). Students will read widely and experiment wildly with their writing, turning in three longish workshop essays of their choice. They will also interview a visiting writer, study contemporary literary journals, choose the “Essayest American Essays,” and learn to submit their own work.

 English 668R: Fiction Workshop (John Bennion)

This graduate fiction class will function as a writing group, reading and commenting on classmates’ work. The course will consist of three kinds of workshop: for the first half of the course students will submit short pieces or fragments of longer pieces where everyone workshops almost every week (Michael Martone’s hypoxic workshop), and for the second half more traditional workshops of full stories or novel chapters alternating with work in small groups of four students. Students will read several theoretical essays on writing fiction: for example, the Preface to Portrait of a Lady by Henry James. They will also read about 300 pages in their genre.  The class is open to writers of character-based fiction of any genre, for any age audience, of any length.

English 669:  Graduate Poetry Workshop (Kimberly Johnson)

A writing workshop represents an opportunity to hear from disinterested persons about the communicative successes and failures of your work.  This course combines traditional workshop discussion of student poems with a larger discussion about the craft and theory of poetry writing.  We will frame that larger conversation by looking at key theoretical texts and at a number of poetry collections, identifying their poetic strategies and assessing the effects of those strategies, and considering the concept of the poetry book qua book—that is, as a coherent document with its own governing arguments.

Each week, we will seek to acknowledge the mutually constitutive labors of thinking, reading, and writing.  We will spend the first 30(-ish) minutes of class discussing a point of poetic theory or craft; the next 45(-ish) minutes discussion a single collection of poetry; and the remaining time workshopping student poems.

 

Winter 2019


English 611R: Teaching Advanced Composition (University Writing Directors)

English 611 prepares students to teach advanced writing in the disciplines. Students apply to intern with an experienced instructor in one of the English Department’s advanced writing courses: Writing for the Arts and Humanities, Persuasive Writing, Writing in Education, Writing in the Social Sciences, and Technical Communication. The intern attends every class and team-teaches the course while taking a 1.5-credit class on writing in the disciplines. For the final project, students produce an online teaching portfolio to share with future employers.

English 613R: Aesthetics and Poetics of Space (Jon Balzotti)

This course explores our shared experience with space, requiring a careful, attentive reading to both literary texts and public discourse. We begin with French phenomenologist Gaston Bachelard’s idea of the house as “the protector of dreamers” and use additional insight drawn from rhetorical theorists like Kenneth Burke to develop a deeper and more perceptive interpretation of the places we inhabit. From ancient architecture to more modern aesthetics, this class will be a sustained and rigorous pursuit of how rhetoric and aesthetics intersect to influence memory, place, and identity.

 

English 617R: Creative Writing Theory (Joey Franklin)

This class will focus on creative writing theory and practice, giving students a deep background in the ideas that drove their forebears and which can influence their own writing. It will also give opportunities to learn and put into practice literary citizenship, including reviewing, subscribing, and submitting to journals.

English 621: Being Bookish in Romantic-Era Britain (Nick Mason)

In recent decades, “Book History” has become an umbrella term for an array of critical approaches, including textual studies, traditional bibliography, publishing history, digital humanities, and print, media, and reception history. In English 621 we will study important new scholarship in these modes, specifically criticism modelling fresh approaches to British literature of the Romantic age. The course’s primary aims will be providing field-specific training for specialists in 18th/19th-century literature and useful research tools, interpretive methods, and conceptual frameworks for those with other emphases. Readings will include 1) various canonical and lesser-known poems, tales, novels, and essays from Britain’s Romantic era; 2) scholarship by Jerome McGann, Leah Price, Andrew Piper, and others on print culture, the media marketplace, and periodical reading in late 18th- and early 19th-century Britain; and 3) essays by Ben Kakfa, Lisa Gitelman, Franco Moretti, and others articulating new, digital-age paradigms for literary and media studies.

English 622R: Modernist Masters: Joyce, Lawrence, Woolf (Jarica Watts)

This course will be a seminar on modern British literature, focusing primarily on the work of James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and D.H. Lawrence. We will read several major texts (fiction and nonfiction) by each author as well as theoretical and critical work about the writers and their work—and about modernism and its context.

These writers were very aware of one another’s work; they were colleagues and rivals; they responded to the world around them; they were visionaries and pioneers. Among other issues, we’ll discuss the modernist writer’s ambivalent relation to novelistic tradition; the importance of place; characterization and experimentation; the pull of the past; naturalism and myth; England versus Europe, Europe versus Asia, rural England versus urban England; the role of the artist; the evolution of gender roles within and between cultures and generations.

English 627R:  Adaptation Studies: Hitchcock and Poe (Dennis Perry)

Examines how several of Hitchcock’s major films are based on Poe story lines, such as Rear Window and “The Man of the Crowd” and Vertigo and “The Fall of the House of Usher.” Hitchcock wrote a brief article about his intense interest in Poe from his teen years on. This course will examine several examples of Hitchcock’s use of Poe motifs, if not entire narrative structures, to build his films.

English 629R: African American Literature and the Politics of “Home” (Kristin Matthews)

America has been called “home the brave” and “land of the free.” “Home” invites ideas of inclusion, community, and safety. At the same time, “home” also communicates a sense of “belongingness” that, while including some, necessarily excludes “others” from particular spaces, places, and orders. Understood in these ways, “home” becomes a concept that is at once philosophical, psychological, and political. Given the recent events that have sparked new ways of talking about this centuries old “race problem,” we will read literature written in the last five years to examine how contemporary black writers are addressing what W.E.B. DuBois called “the problem of the color line.” These texts pose key questions about “home” and its relationship to geography, ancestry, language, history, displacement, class, and gender. Ultimately, the texts selected for this course examine what it means and what it takes to feel “at home” in one’s community, one’s nation, and one’s own skin.

English 630R: Image Theory  (Ed Cutler)

This seminar will focus upon the theories of the image as they pertain to poetics, philosophy, and criticism.  The imagism of Ezra Pound, H.D., and Amy Lowell—“an ‘Image’ is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time”—is among the more influential schools of modernist poetry, but only the one of a number of attempts to pin down the significance of images to art, language, and the form of thought itself.  The broader scope of our inquiry will take up such questions as what distinguishes an image from a picture, and an image from an object.  WJT Mitchell indicates this distinction: “You can hang a picture but you can’t hang an image.” The image, after all, is what appears in the picture and what can survive the picture’s destruction—in memory, in narrative, in copies and traces across media. Following the lead of surrealism, Walter Benjamin’s “dialectical images” function similarly as the temporal carriers of latent or lost experience that become legible in uncanny and unexpected awakenings.  The truth of the image, for Benjamin, is not the timeless quality inherent in its form, but its bond to a nucleus of time, hidden within the knower and the known alike, and as apt to spring forth in fashion and style as in philosophy or religion. “This is so true,” Benjamin holds, “that the eternal, in any case, is far more the ruffle on a dress than some idea.” Our inquiry will help us understand what Benjamin is talking about. We will develop this understanding with focused consideration not only of his work, but contemporary and distant theories of the role of images in relation to the beautiful and the true.

English 667R: Creative Nonfiction Workshop (Joey Franklin)

We will take an in-depth look at the craft and theory of three major sub-genres of creative nonfiction–the lyric essay, the memoir essay, and the audio essay. We will read (and listen) widely to understand the various approaches to these sub-genres and we will try our hand at each. We will share our essays in workshop, revise them heavily, and submit them to literary magazines. Three major essay assignments, plus a book review essay, and an experimental project.

English 668R: Fiction Workshop (Stephen Tuttle)

This fiction workshop will focus almost exclusively on new student writing. While we will spend a portion of our time studying exemplary models and useful theories, we will dedicate the bulk of our time to discussions of new work, looking for ways to improve it through constructive, sometimes prescriptive, conversation. Students will be expected to write entirely new works of a fiction (stories, chapters, fragments, experiments).

English 669R: Poetry Workshop (John Talbot)

We’ll test this proposition: that close reading of poetry is not merely preparatory to the writing of poetry, but a constituent of writing it. So our workshops will alternate with very, very close readings – I’d say savoring, if I thought it seemly – of great poems from all periods of English verse, with occasional reference to poems in other languages. Writerly reading, then, most often at the level of individual poems or even a single line, but students will also choose a poet’s oeuvre to read entire. Minimum of theory and none of the patois: I’d prefer to address you as a carpenter would a group of fellow craftsmen.

Spring 2019


 

English 620R: Literature and Heresy (Jason Kerr)

With the breakdown of censorship in England in the early 1640s, hitherto-suppressed ideas began finding their way into print, resulting in a public religious conversation whose breadth and diversity had not been seen since the earliest days of the Radical Reformation. Some of these writings, like Milton’s divorce tracts and the notorious Ranter pamphlets, challenged existing sexual mores. Others, like the reports of women prophets, simultaneously challenged gender norms and ecclesiastical structures. Still others, like the Socinian pamphlets of John Biddle, challenged the very idea of God. As our course studies these writings and the inevitable responses they generated, we will explore the complexities of free speech and freedom of religion, asking what it means to have a functioning public sphere.

English 629R : Reading Indigenous Lands and/as Indigenous Literatures (Michael Taylor)

In The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America (2012), Thomas King (Cherokee) contends, “Land. If you understand nothing else about the history of Indians in North America, you need to understand that the question that really matters is the question of land.” Within our current political climate of renewed federal land grabs (think Dakota Access Pipeline, Bears Ears, etc.), the goal of this course is to analyze the presence and purpose of Indigenous lands within Indigenous literatures. Our readings will include the land itself, pre-colonial constitutions, nineteenth-century newspapers, twentieth-century boarding school poetry, and twenty-first century fiction, hip-hop, and video games. Through the intersections of such diverse literary timelines and traditions, we will analyze Indigenous land as a literal, literary, and theoretical framework through which we can productively question dominant national narratives that continue to delegitimize Indigenous perspectives on the peoples, places, and politics of North America.

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