Extended Descriptions-Graduate


Winter 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 612R:  “History of Rhetoric Part I: From Homer to Milton (Greek Sophists to Renaissance Christian Humanists) (Nancy Christiansen)

This course will set both the underlying foundation and the overarching context for further studies in rhetoric, composition, literary theory, and literary analysis by introducing you to the primary philosophies, theories, and pedagogical practices of language arts teachers from the beginnings of formal language arts education (i.e. rhetoric) in ancient Greece through Roman and Medieval adaptations to Renaissance fruitions.  We will become cognizant of the reoccurring issues debated throughout this tradition and read theoretical, pedagogical, and literary works to trace the debates, the developments, and the instantiations of the varying philosophies.   This course is the necessary first part of a two-part series, and part 2 – “Rhetorical History From 1660 AD to the Present” – will be taught winter 2019.

617R: Creative Writing Theory (Michael Lavers)

Great literature is mysterious, and we should be glad it is—it is what makes our favorite books seem divine and strange and beautiful. In this class, we’ll explore how great writers and thinkers throughout the ages have imagined what literature does/is, and how it gets written. The purpose of this course is not to settle these questions once and for all, but rather to pose them, hold them up to the light, and see if they can make us more aware of the tradition(s) we are attempting to join, as well as more deliberate in our own attempts at “getting the words right.” The culmination of the course is the composition of a conference-style research paper in which students choose one literary work and examine the ways that text has been theorized, debated, interpreted, etc.

English 622R: Dystopian Worlds and Contemporary British Literature (Peter Leman)

In this course, we will examine an important trend of dystopian writing in contemporary British/Anglophone literature. In addition to thinking about issues of form and genre and the history of utopian/dystopian writing in the British literary tradition (e.g., Moore, Bacon, Morris, Verne, Butler, Wells, Orwell, Huxley, Golding, etc.), we will also examine dystopias in relationship to religious thought (have literary dystopias become a secular eschatology?) and social thought (socialism, Marxism), as well as recent theories of dystopia, capitalism, science fiction, “deep time,” and the Anthropocene by figures like Frederic Jameson, Slavoj Zizek, Dipsesh Chakrabarty, Wai Chee Dimock, and Michael Gordin. Our primary readings will include the novels A Clockwork Orange (1962) by Anthony Burgess, Stand on Zanzibar (1968) by John Brunner, Children of Men (1992) by P.D. James, Oryx and Crake (2003) by Margaret Atwood, Cloud Atlas (2004) by David Mitchell, and Never Let me Go (2005) by Kazuo Ishiguro.

English 628R: Memory, Trauma, and Nostalgia in Contemporary American Literature (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 (strategies of distant reading, planetary reading, Anthropocenic reading, etc.), 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, and so on.   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: Contemporary Anglo-American Autobiography (Phil Snyder)

To provide a portable and adaptable theoretical apparatus—autobiography and ethics—for pursuing projects inside and outside the seminar, we’ll start with Linda Anderson’s Autobiography (2nd edition). Then we’ll produce some smart readings of paired texts—1) Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman & Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon (familial relations) and 2) The Faraway Horses by Buck Brannaman & H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (human/animal relations)–as informed by our theoretical apparatus.  Requirements include a discussion handout; a review of a recent autobiographical text (any genre, including blogs); a 12-page hybrid essay blending critical analysis with creative nonfiction.

English 630R:  What Is the Postsecular? And Why? (Matt Wickman)

The postsecular comprises a body of thought that is reformulating the place of religion — and, in some ways more importantly, the place of religious thinking — in contemporary culture. Postsecularism thus designates a distinctive body of work (by figures like Jean-Luc Marion and Talal Asad) and also a way of reading the wider, “secular” tradition(s) of theory. Our section will engage both aspects of the postsecular, sampling this important new body of work and reading influential secular theories from a postsecular perspective.


English 667R: Creative Non-Fiction Workshop (Joey Franklin)

 Alexander Smith once wrote: “The world is everywhere whispering essays.” We will put that idea to the test as we explore the work of a diverse group of essayists and the many sources of their inspiration.  We will treat the essay as fine art and attempt to understand the principles of craft that have given the genre its staying power and flexibility. We will consider the essay as an epistemological method and attempt to learn something new about ourselves as we write; and finally, we will engage the essay as spiritual practice in order to, as Pico Iyer suggests, “do justice to what our clearer moments have taught us.”  Three major essay assignments, plus a book review essay, and an experimental project.

669R: Creative Poetry Workshop

In this class, we will focus on enjoying great poems, poems by Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Keats, Whitman, Dickinson, Stevens, Yeats, Heaney, Walcott, Bishop, Milosz, and others. We’ll ask ourselves what specific qualities, traits, or ingredients make these poems so good, and we’ll attempt to draft, revise, and re-revise poems with the same qualities and traits; poems which, one day, might be great too. In addition to reading a handful of great poems very very closely, students will pick one poet from the syllabus to read in his/her entirety.


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 616: 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 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 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

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 613R: Rhetorical Theory (Jon Balzotti)

Renowned rhetorical critic David Zarefsky explains that rhetorical criticism should answer two basic questions about a given text: “What is going on here?” and, “Why should we care?” Ultimately, giving you the tools to answer these questions thoughtfully is the goal of this course. Accomplishing this goal, however, is easier said than done. As Sonja K. Foss states: “Rhetorical criticism is not a process confined to a few assignments in a rhetorical or media criticism course. It is an everyday activity we can use to understand our responses to symbols of all kinds” (xi).  Consequently, this course will help you develop a kind of sensibility – an entirely new way of considering the messages you read, watch, and hear. The course is designed to equip you with concepts that will open your mind to the inherent persuasive structures that inform most of the texts you encounter. You will be expected to use these concepts as you read, reread, and re-reread rhetorical texts so as to understand what is going on within them, and why you or anybody else should care. I have also designed this course to be a preview of some of the contemporary theories and methods of rhetorical criticism used by contemporary scholars. Please be aware that you will be expected to produce thoughtful criticism of rhetorical artifacts throughout the semester. It is up to you to take the tools of this course and apply them as a consumer, user, and critic of rhetoric.

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 628R:  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 629: 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).

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.

Follow by Email