Extended Descriptions-Graduate

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 612R: History of Rhetoric (Ben Crosby)

This course explores the history and theory of rhetoric from the Renaissance through the modern and post-modern periods. The course begins by considering the way sixteenth-century thinkers began to dismantle rhetoric’s Greco-Roman foundations; it ends by considering rhetoric’s resurgence and reinvention in the twentieth-century academy. Students will become conversant in the major thinkers and concepts that have guided rhetoric for the past several centuries. They will apply their learning in the form of short presentations; short papers; and a final, theory-driven essay worthy of submission to a major conference.

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 (Kim Johnson)

This course will examine texts that fall somewhere between genres, in an effort to articulate a theory that can adequately account for the interplay of convention and innovation.  This course hopes to ask the hard questions, to explore the triangular relationship between genre and literary history and sociopolitical context.  Students will explore this topic in a combination of critical papers and creative exercises.  By investigating this hinterland genre (if such it can be called), this course hopes to provoke useful reflection on formal theory in students who write both prose and poetry, with an eye toward each student’s theorizing his/her own creative project.

English 621: Romanticism in Black & White, Red & Green (Nick Mason)

Next semester’s section of ENGL 621 is designed to appeal equally to the student specializing in 19th-century British literature and the creative writer, compositionist, or Americanist who appreciates the likes of Wordsworth, Austen, and Keats and is interested in exploring how the “Romantic Revolution” that swept late 18th– and early 19th-century societies continues to inform everything from how we teach first-year writing to our conceptions of environmental ethics and social justice. During the first half of the semester, we will focus on “Romanticism in Black & White”—or theories and practices of reading, writing, and publishing that emerged during Britain’s Romantic age. At the heart of this unit will be landmark literary works that continue to inform debates among book historians and compositionists on such topics as writerly “genius” and “voice,” the appeal and limitations of collaborative writing, and shifting norms for visual and print rhetoric in the age of mass media. Midway through the semester, we’ll turn to questions of socioeconomic justice (“Red Romanticism”) and environmental preservation (“Green Romanticism”). Featured readings will include Romantic-era poems and novels by William Blake, the Wordsworths, William Godwin, and Percy Shelley that subsequently attained quasi-scriptural status among revolutionaries as diverse as Karl Marx, John Muir, the Beat poets, and Occupy Wall Street. While our primary focus will remain major literary texts from the 1780s through 1830s, class discussions will regularly explore what the industrial age’s earliest writers might teach us about building more just, peaceful, and sustainable societies.

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 626R:  Adaptation Studies: Hitchcock and Poe (Dennis Perry)

Examines how several of Hitchcock’s major films are based on Poe storylines, 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)

“Image—not allegory—not symbol of something other than itself—symbol of itself.” Novalis, “Logological Fragments”

What is an image? Does it differ from a picture? Can we conceive of an image or a form as such, prior to or outside of human language, social function, or other conventions of signification? Are verbal and literary images necessarily embedded in—and only intelligible through—the historical contexts in which they emerge?  Questions regarding the status of the image date from Genesis (“So God created man in his own image . . . male and female created he them”) and the philosophical and rhetorical traditions of antiquity, where Plato paradoxically asserts the formal reality of Truth (ideal form) even as he dismisses poetic images as “a long way removed from truth . . . because [the poet] never penetrates beneath the superficial appearance of anything.”

The vexed status of images and forms—do they reflect reality or distort it?—is evident in the long and sometimes violent history of religious and philosophical iconoclasms, the prohibition of images and the smashing of idols. At the same time, image and form are indispensable features of art. Longstanding questions about their nature and function, moreover, have never left humanistic studies, and in recent years have gained new relevance in the biological sciences, digital media and film studies, AI, even inquiries into the holy grail of critical mysteries: the origin and operations of human consciousness.

In Winter 2019 we will explore these concepts and contexts through critical writings both ancient and contemporary. The goal will be to sharpen our critical vocabulary for engaging questions of image and form; to situate our humanistic conceptions in relation to related critical currents in the sciences; and finally, to discern rich new horizons of thought that may add texture and relevance to our own critical and creative work.

English 667R: Creative Nonfiction Workshop (Joey Franklin)

This is a workshop in the craft and theory of creative nonfiction. This means we’ll be writing creatively and critically and exploring various structural moves within the broader genre. We will be reading After Montaigne, and writing our own Montaignian essays; we’ll be reading The Shell Game, and writing our own Hermit Crab essays; and we’ll be reading Betwixt and Between by Jenny Boully and thinking deeply about the art and craft of creative nonfiction.

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 (Kimberly Johnson)

We’re going to read several collections of poetry this term, seeking to learn from both the style and techniques of individual poems and to gain a greater appreciation for how a collection of poetry coheres, with an eye toward the construction of a manuscript (this may be especially useful for graduate students working toward creative theses).  In addition to collections I’ve selected to teach at the semester’s outset, each student will choose a collection for the class as a whole to study, and will be responsible to teach that book to the class.

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.

Fall 2019

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 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 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 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 620R: Seminar in British Literature 1830-Present (Kimberly Johnson)

This course explores texts written in response to the religious, ecclesiological, and theological developments of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  This class will examine 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.

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.



Winter 2021

ENGL 622: Seminar in British Literature 1830-Present (Peter Leman)

This seminar will provide an introduction to the field of “Law and Literature,” focusing in particular on methodological questions, law vs. ethics, and language. As a field, Law and Literature 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 configurations, we will draw heavily upon Robert Cover’s insight that the law depends upon a deep structure of cultural narratives for its meaning. We will ask what it means to think about law in terms of culture and what cultural texts (novels, plays, films, etc.), therefore, have to do with law. In what ways do works of literature enhance our understanding of the cultural foundations (and ragged edges) of the law? In what ways does the law provide a theoretical or historical framework for thinking about literature? Can the literary be legal and the legal literary? We will read key theoretical texts, including works by James Boyd White, Robert Cover, Brook Thomas, Colin Dayan, Martha Nussbaum, Richard Weisberg, and Ravit Reichman, among others, as well as a combination of legal cases and literary texts primarily from the U.S. and the U.K.

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