Extended Descriptions-Graduate


Spring 2017

English 614R: The Rhetoric of Historical Change (Grant Boswell)

Howard Margolis was a professor at the University of Chicago who, in a series of books, developed an account “about persuasion and belief in the context of social choice” (Paradigms, xi). His corpus of work analyzes how something that seems counterintuitive at one point can become commonplace at a later time. He makes this fascinating observation: “It is only since the Renaissance that we can point to cases where a community is actually persuaded to come to see things in a radically new way by reasoning–in contrast, say, to the shattering effect of conquest, or to the evolution of habit and custom over a period of many generations” (Patterns, Thinking and Cognition, 185). He died unexpectedly as he was working on a book to be entitled Understanding Persuasion.

In the class I want to reconstruct Margolis’s account of how change occurs rhetorically over time because his insights challenge some traditional notions of persuasion. I want to supplement Margolis’s work with very interesting work that parallels his from rhetorical criticism, human rights campaigns, and ethical revolutions. My purpose is to develop a model for a rhetoric of historical change.

English 622R: Migrant UK Literatures (Aaron Eastley)

This course looks at the “new place” London has been (for immigrants) and has become (for everyone) since waves of people from former British colonies began pouring into the city in the 1950s. Hailing from places as varied as Trinidad and Jamaica, India and Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Ghana, and South Africa, these new Londoners have produced fascinating and deeply moving literary representations of their lived experiences in today’s UK. This course will build a theoretical framework around such texts using ideas from diaspora studies, transnational studies, and globalization studies.

This course will engage issues germane not only to Later British Literature MA students, but also to anyone interested in immigration and cultural hybridization. Furthermore, MFA students will find in the course a great opportunity to study the work of several of today’s best contemporary British writers, including Monica Ali, Andrea Levy, V. S. Naipaul, Caryl Phillips, and Zoe Wicomb.

English 629R: Borges and Poe (Emron Esplin)

In this course we will adopt an inter-American or hemispheric approach to literature to examine the reciprocal relationship between Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges and US writer Edgar Allan Poe.  Themes will include analytic detective fiction, the fantastic, the infinite, memory, and revenge.. We will examine how Borges and Poe theorize short fiction and poetry, blend essay with short fiction, write literary hoaxes, and create fictional texts and authors within their own fiction.

English 630: Theories of Cultural Nationalism  (Frank Christianson)

This course will focus on theories of nationalism. More specifically we will examine literature’s place in the development and maintenance of cultural nationalism.  We will consider how the category of the nation, as a cultural formation, relates to other organizing systems from region to empire. We will also interrogate notions of cosmopolitanism, transnationalism, and postnationalism (an increasingly quaint term). While we will draw our case studies from the period of high nationalism in the US and Britain—the nineteenth century—students can adapt the critical frameworks, questions, and lexicon to inform readings within their preferred subfields.


Fall 2017

English 495: The Rhetoric of Literature (Greg Clark)

This course will focus on the ways that literature is rhetorical — that is, the ways that a work of literature works on the feelings, ideas, and aspirations as well as the attitudes and even the actions of those who read it. Literature influences, sometimes powerfully. We will study how that happens. Our study will begin with a careful reading of Wayne Booth’s The Company We Keep: An Ethics of Fiction (1989) and Brian Boyd’s On the Origin of Stories: Evolution, Cognition, and Fiction (2009) to provide us with usable concepts for examining how literature is rhetorical. Then we’ll read some literary texts together and analyze them as rhetoric.

English 495: Literature and the Theory of Spiritual Experience (Matt Wickman)

This class explores spiritual experience as a subject of academic inquiry. Our objective is not to identify spiritual experience in works of literature as much as to undertake a generative inquiry into what a concept of spiritual experience might mean relative to literature, or perhaps through it. This means that spiritual experience – conceived not only in religious terms but also, and more ecumenically, as pertaining to matters of ultimate concern – may appear by way of content, form, or reception (or, more broadly, use – that is, how readers, societies, departments, and fields either interpret literature or put it to work). What we will strive to elucidate in our inquiry, then, is not a theology of spiritual experience, but rather a literary theory of it. How do texts conceive of, lend form to, and communicate spirituality? And how does spirituality figure in relation to other kinds of literary effects (like beauty, desire, etc.)? In formulating such a theory, we will read a variety of poems, novels, stories, scholarly studies of spiritual experience (from philosophy and the sciences), and religious texts. Our discussions will center on questions like these: What is spiritual experience? What does it bring to our self-understanding as well as our understanding of literature? And how can literature enhance our understanding and appreciation of spiritual experience?

English 495: Poe on Film (Dennis Perry)

This course  will  study film adaptations  of  Poe’s writings,  including  La Chute de Maison Usher (Epstein 1926), The House of Usher (Corman 1960), Psycho (Hitchcock 1960), Vertigo (Hitchcock 1957), The Pit, the Pendulum and the Hope (Svankmajer 1983), and The Fall of the House of Usher (Svankmajer 1980).

English 495: African-American Literature and the Politics of “Home” (Kristin Matthews)

America has been called “home of 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. Our class this semester will focus on the ideas, performance, and complexities of “home” in modern African American literature. 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 and one’s own skin.

English 495: Odd Angles of Heaven: A Contemporary Poetry of Belief (Lance Larsen)

After reviewing devotional verse from the Renaissance forward and sampling a few of the greats, we’ll consider several key contemporary poets and read collections by nine of them, including two Pulitzer-prize winners, Louise Gluck and Charles Wright.  What will you gain from such a class?  One, an in-depth reading of an often ignored genre.  Two, crucial links to devotional poetry, modernism, and postmodernism.  Three, a greater understanding of prosody, form, and the evolution of genre.  Four, a distilled report of our present cultural moment.  Five, a sense of how contemporary poets grapple with issues of belief against a secular backdrop.

English 495: James, Twain and America (Dennis Cutchins)

This 495 class will focus primarily on the late 19th Century literature of Henry James and Mark Twain.  We would work to establish the historical and cultural milieu in which these men wrote and explore in some depth their very different styles.  The hope is that by reading the works of these two authors side by side we can create an understanding both of the 19th Century and of literary Realism that are more complex than generally taught in literature classes.

English 600: Introduction to Graduate Studies (Ed Cutler)


English 616: Research Methods in English Studies (David Stock)

This course introduces graduate students to research methodologies used across academic disciplines, focusing on methods that are common to English studies.  We will survey qualitative and quantitative methods, including theorizing, historicizing, surveying, interviewing, textual/discursive analysis, and ethnographic/case study. Students will a) understand assumptions, approaches, affordances, and constraints of various research methods, b) identify research design and assess methodological integrity and quality in current research, c) develop facility with research methods through experimentation and/or application and, d) design, conduct or complete research for a thesis, conference presentation, or scholarly article.

English 620R: Post-Reformation Poetry and Religion (Kim Johnson)

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 622R: Dickens, Victorian Periodical Culture, and the History of Fiction (Jamie Horrocks)

Nearly every Victorian novel taught in English classes today was first published serially, in periodicals. So it is here that our class will begin its investigations. We will read some novels famously serialized in Charles Dickens’s periodicals (by Dickens himself, Gaskell, and Collins), but we’ll also venture into the poetry, essays, letters, and editorials that fleshed out each installment. Drawing upon a variety of methods, we will explore the construction and education of readership, the negotiations necessitated by editorial intervention, the creation of reputation and canonicity, and the relationship of periodical literature to its graphic and commercial contexts.

English 626R: Witchcraft and the World (Mary Eyring)

The early American witchcraft phenomenon has been studied as a manifestation of anxiety surrounding gender and sexuality in the Americas. Certainly it was. But in a much larger sense, witchcraft registered early Americans’ concerns about their relationship to the continent, the Atlantic world, and the globe. In small and often isolated settlements, European colonists in the Americas were in a perpetual posture of defense against anticipated attacks—on their bodies, homes, souls, children, institutions, customs—with no clear sense of the origins or implications of the threat. In this climate, everything in the world, visible and invisible, was suspect. During the most famous episodes in the history of early modern witchcraft, accusers blurred the lines between sinner and saint, stranger and friend, on terms that echoed their constantly shifting status on a globe in flux. Were they Europeans (transmitting centuries of repression and violence) or Americans (entangled with the native inhabitants of their continents and islands)? Witchcraft periodically threw the ongoing tensions of colonial expansion and governance into sharp relief. At stake in these trials was not only the fate of individuals, but also the role that science, spirituality, law, literature, cross-cultural cooperation, and individualism were to play on the dramatic theaters of the New World.

We will trace the concerns of witchcraft in a variety of texts. Our seminar will begin with a study of the European bases upon which the early American witchcraft phenomenon rests, and we will study the animating anxieties as they were manifested, repressed, analyzed, and dramatized in other global contexts. Our sources will include the familiar and conventionally literary—histories, drama, short stories, a novel—as well as journals, letters, newspapers, and a film.

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: Indigenous American Literatures (Michael Taylor)

The purpose of this course is to acknowledge and examine the intricate complexity, diversity, and provocative beauty of Indigenous American literatures in a way that transcends Eurowestern understandings of land, life, and literature. Utah’s 2000-year-old Newspaper Rock and the award-winning Alaska Native video game, Never Alone (2014), will serve as bookends to our course as we engage with the works of a variety of Indigenous writers and literary communities throughout North America and the Pacific.

English 630R: Planetary Modernisms (Aaron Eastley)

Modernism/Modernity are powerful ideas typically linked either narrowly to Europe and America in the first half of the 20th century or more broadly to Europe and its cultural diaspora from roughly 1500 on. In its most strident iterations the notion of planetary modernism insists on an entirely new paradigm for modernist studies. Susan Stanford Friedman asserts that “We need to begin by abandoning the notion of modernity as a period, instead considering modernity as a loosely configured set of conditions that share a core meaning of accelerated change but articulate differently on the global map of human history.” “A new map of modernism is emerging,” she insists, and “within this planetary frame, the spaces and times of modernism move colonialism, postcolonialism, and transnationalism to the center of modernist studies.” This course will focus on planetary/global modernisms. We will read theoretical texts from a wide range of scholars, notably the already mentioned Friedman, as well as Franco Moretti, Emily Apter, David Damrosch, Mary Lou Emery, Simon Gikandi, Fredric Jameson, Djelal Kadir, Revathi Krishnaswamy, Neil Lazarus, Sarah Lincoln, Aamir Mufti, Jahan Ramazani, and Gayatri Spivak. We will further seek to connect the theoretical content of the course with a wide range of literary works that might be considered “modern” under the new terms of planetary/global modernisms. Professor Eastley will model this process by sharing some of his recent work on Trinidadian author Seepersad Naipaul, then invite seminar participants to explore and share further examples from authors of their own choosing.

Key Texts:  Freidman, Planetary Modernisms: Provocations on Modernity Across Time (2015), Wollaeger and Eatough, eds, The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms (2012), Damrosch, ed, World Literature in Theory (2014)

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: Creative Fiction Workshop (Steve Tuttle)


English 669R: Creative Poetry Workshop (Lance Larsen)


Winter 2018

English 621R: British Romanticism and Contemporary Trends in Book History  (Nick Mason)

“Book History” has come to function as the umbrella term for a wide range of scholarly modes, including textual studies, the sociology of print, publishing history, bibliography, digital humanities, and periodical, media, and reception studies. While researchers in virtually every corner of the modern English department cross over into this subfield, a disproportionate amount of the best work in book history has come from scholars of nineteenth-century British and, more generally, European literature. The concepts and interpretive methods brought forward in these scholars’ work will form the backbone of this seminar.

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.




Spring 2018

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


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.