Graduate Seminars

Click on a title for a description box to show, or view all courses and descriptions in the Fall2017.  All students must receive permission from the instructor and/or the Graduate English Office in order to enroll. To officially register for the course, please use the PeopleSoft Class Number (PSC#) in parenthesis.  Registration through PeopleSoft starts on Monday, October 20, 2017.


Fall 2017 Seminars

ENGL 5100-01/02 (class#11121) THE THEORY AND TEACHING OF WRITING: (Brueggemann):  This course brings together theory and practice in the college-level writing classroom.  We will contextualize the histories, theories, and principles of teaching writing in a post secondary context. The course and its corequisite practicum (5182) offer a space to support new instructors as they develop their theories of teaching and writing while collaboratively composing a repertoire of effective course materials.
ENGL 5150-01 (class#9353) RESEARCH METHODS: (Mahoney):  This course introduces students to the rudiments of literary critical practice by exploring current research methodologies in English studies. To that end, a broad sampling of the English graduate faculty will come to our class and introduce students to the ways they approach literary and cultural criticism. We will discuss the ever-shifting terrain of graduate study, examining how our research methods persistently re-define what constitutes the objects of literary-critical analysis.

ENGL 5500-01 (class #11998) CHILDREN’S LITERATURE: (Capshaw): This survey of Children’s Literature focuses on field formation and introduces students to its major critical methodologies. In terms of field formation, we consider the following questions: What makes a children’s book?  Is children’s literature different thematically or stylistically from “adult” literature?  How does children’s literature cross boundaries of audience and genre?  Do canonical children’s texts share certain qualities?  How are children’s texts historically and contextually situated?  What is the role of didacticism to children’s literature?   What is the role of the adult mediator to the endurance of children’s texts?  How do children’s texts construct the child reader?In order to address these key questions, we examine the formal qualities, reception history, and critical lineage of canonical children’s texts, starting with fairy tales, moving through the “golden age” of children’s literature, and into the mid-twentieth century. In the last third of the course, we examine questions of field formation by considering texts that break boundaries formally and that include representations of various iterations of childhood, including texts from particular ethnic communities and those engaging the impossibility of insular childhood for characters in poverty.

The course invests deeply in three major critical sites for the study of children’s literature: archival work, debates around child agency, and word/image study. We read critics on each of those subjects; in the past I’ve included readings by Karen Sanchez-Eppler, Kenneth Kidd, Maria Tatar, Beverly Lyon Clark, Roderick McGillis, Jacqueline Rose, David Rudd, Kimberly Reynolds, Claudia Nelson, Marah Gubar, Robin Bernstein, Perry Nodelman, Philip Nel, and others. I have also included an archival project; students have the option to visit collections at the American Antiquarian Society, the Beinecke at Yale, the Houghton Library at Harvard, the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection at UConn, and the John Hay Library at Brown. Please email me at or stop by Austin 136 with any questions. Students from all fields are welcome to join the course.

ENGL 5318-01 (class#11999) CHAUCER: (Somerset):  Chaucer’s works were widely read and highly influential in their own time. They bulk even larger when we consider their subsequent influence on both high-literary and vernacular poetry in the anglophone tradition, up to the present day. In this course we’ll read Chaucer’s major works (the dream visions, Troilus and Criseyde, the Canterbury Tales) alongside a sampling of contemporary writings that cast light on Chaucer’s cultural context and the sociopolitical issues that concerned him most (e.g. chronicles, legal records); the classical and continental sources that Chaucer and many subsequent English writers engaged with (e.g. Ovid, the Romance of the Rose); and recent or influential critical writings on Chaucer (e.g. Patterson, Wallace, Cooper, Mann). This is an important foundational course for graduate students planning to specialize in the medieval period, but useful also for other students with interests in poetry, cultural studies, vernacularity, historicism, legal studies, or literary tradition.
ENGL 5329-01 (class#1200) MILTON:  (Semenza):  This introductory course—designed for specialists and non-specialists in early modern literature alike—will examine Milton’s major poetry and many of his prose works within their specific historical contexts.  The difficulty of reading Milton is exacerbated by the political, religious, and economic upheavals of the mid-seventeenth century.  International exploration, a rapidly expanding economy, increasing religious sectarianism, and the earth-shattering execution of Charles I, among other phenomena, all contributed to the breakdown and redefinition of an older Renaissance order.  Milton was, in fact, one of the most radical proponents of change in this period, and he gave expression to his ideas through his poetry as well as his polemical writings.  In this class, then, we will attempt to reconstruct these larger contexts within which Milton was writing and consider his work in light of them.  The final weeks of the semester will be dedicated to exploring the continuing relevance of Milton in the twenty-first century, especially in relation to such issues as the forms of modern republicanism, terrorism, environmental crisis, and gender struggle.
Primary readings will include a selection of the early poetry, Comus, Areopagitica, Eikonoklastes, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, and Samson Agonistes, among others.  Assignments will include a bibliographic presentation on a specific major work, abstracts, a proposal, and a final research paper of 20+ pages.
ENGL 5430-01 (class #12001) AMERICAN LITERATURE IV (1914-Present):  EMPHASIS ON MODERNISM AND ETHNIC LITERATURE: (Makowsky):  Since one cannot teach everything within the twentieth century, I emphasize modernism and ethnic literature for two reasons: 1) they both challenge the status quo yet often paradoxically mourn what may have been lost, as reflected in a spectrum of attitudes toward the past in the works that I have selected. 2) These two movements provide graduate students with some possible means of organizing the survey (and other) courses that they will teach in the future.
My critical approach to the material emphasizes historical and cultural context with some emphasis on literary techniques and close reading. For example, to begin the course with its first five works, we will consider the ways the Progressive Era and World War I and its aftermath led to the questioning of war, marriage, the role of women, immigration, labor, etc. We will next study four works of southern modernism and so will look at ways the history and culture of the South are distinctive and thus affect southern versions of modernism, such as religion; economic structures like the plantation, class systems, race; and the relative lack of urban centers. When we address ethnic literature, we begin by stressing the importance of mid to late twentieth century movements such as those for civil rights, women’s rights, and ethnic pride. I want students to recognize the unique subject position of each author and the inherent fluidity or instability of such positions as well as the varying lenses with which we view such positions as readers. I emphasize literary techniques because recognition of such techniques is crucial to the consideration of meanings and graduate students will be expected to teach their students about literary techniques. For each week’s reading, I will assign a scholarly article that illustrates a particular approach to the material, so that students will see a range of critical methods applied to these texts. In addition, I challenge students in class discussion to think about how they would construct their own survey courses and how they would present texts to undergraduates. In short, especially since this is a survey course, I emphasize that the graduate students are both scholars and teachers.
The required texts are: Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time; T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land;
Wallace Stevens’ “Sunday Morning,” “Anecdote of the Jar,” “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” and “Not Ideas About the Thing But the Thing Itself”; Anzia Yezierska’s Bread Givers; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury; Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire; Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying; Valerie Martin’s Property; Tina DeRosa’s Paper Fish; Julie Otsuka’s When the Emperor Was Divine; and Louise Erdrich’s The Round House.
Grades: Participation (30%: in addition to class discussion, this includes the oral report on the research paper and responses to the oral reports of others); two short (500 words) response papers (20%); and a fifteen-to-twenty page research paper (50%: due in stages: topic, annotated bibliography, thesis statement and outline, complete draft with sources, final version.). I encourage students to meet with me to discuss any aspect of the course and their work.
ENGL 5500-01 (class#12002) LITERARY CRITICISM: (Hogan):  Critical theory is ubiquitous in graduate study and professional practice. One invariably picks up some theoretical terms and ideas as they are “in the air.” But it is difficult to get an overall sense of the field of critical theory in this way. The first purpose of this course is to provide a general sense of the field, from its beginnings to the present. In keeping with this, the first half of the course will involve an historical overview of major movements and theories. We will begin with the classical Greek and Sanskrit theorists, then the Medieval Arabic theorists. We will briefly consider Neo-Classicism, before turning to the watershed figure of Immanuel Kant. After Kant, we will examine the German Idealists and Romantics, as well as such related figures as Nietzsche and Marx. The overview will continue with theories from the philosophy of mind and experience, such as Phenomenology, and offshoots, such as hermeneutics. It will turn to social and political approaches, including Foucault, Bourdieu, Baudrillard, and Lyotard. Following this, we will survey linguistic approaches, prominently formalism, structuralism, and deconstruction. We will conclude this half of the course with some more recent approaches, such as empirical poetics, and meta-theory.
Another difficulty with picking up theory from the professional atmosphere is that the study of theory in that context tends to be ancillary to some other project, rather than one’s main focus. The second half of the course will explore three or four texts in literary theory. The purpose of this is twofold. First, we will learn in greater detail about the particular theories we are studying. Second, and perhaps more important, we will develop our skills at critically reading and interpreting theoretical texts. In this section, we will primarily take up works treating topics not addressed extensively in the first half of the semester. Thus we might consider works in gender theory (e.g., Judith Butler), evaluative criticism (e.g., Noel Carroll), narratology and stylistics, or emotion study.
Students will write brief responses to the readings, do one or two class presentations, and write a term paper that either addresses a theoretical topic or applies a theory to a literary text.
ENGL 6312-01 (class#12003) SEMINAR IN OLD IRISH: (Biggs):  This class will finish the introduction to Old Irish grammar from Quin’s Old Irish Workbook, Strachan’s Irish Paradigms, and Thurneysen’s Old Irish Grammar, and then move into reading literary texts. Some of the main texts from the period will be approached through the edited versions, such as Strachan’s Stories from the Táin and Thurneysen’s Scéla Mucce Meic Dathó.
6315-01 (class# 12004) SEMINAR IN MEDIEVAL LITERATURE: BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUS, THE CISTERCIANS, AND THE REFORMATION OF THE CHURCH IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY: (Brian McGuire, Visiting Professor): The Christian Church in the Middle Ages underwent several reformations, and one of the central figures in the reformation of the twelfth century was abbot Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153). The seminar will introduce Bernard in the context of his age by reading and discussing some of his letters, treatises and sermons. He is “the difficult saint”, a monastic and church reformer who in his day collected enemies and whose passions and commitments even today remain controversial.
6330-01 (class# 12004) SEMINAR IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY: LITERATURE AND SEXUALITY IN THE 18TH CENTURY: (Marsden): This course examines the ways in which attitudes toward sexuality are reflected in literature during the Restoration and eighteenth century, a time when views of sexuality underwent radical changes. This period saw the elevation – and fall — of the hyper-masculine Rake, the “birth” of the homosexual, shifts in attitudes toward female sexuality and passion, along with widespread fascination with female cross-dressing. The class will explore these developments through a study of drama, fiction, and poetry along with extra literary documents that provide a context for these works. These extra literary works would be read alongside the more traditional literary works in order to understand the ways in which, for example, Restoration comedies are informed by assumptions regarding male sexuality or how attitudes toward female sexuality restrict Richardson’s Pamela. Historical and critical studies have emphasized the importance of this period in the larger history of sexuality, and the course will engage in the critical discourse on the subject by reading broad-based works as Foucault’s History of Sexuality and Laqueur’s Making Sex as well as more focused studies by Trumbach and Lanser, etc. Additional readings could include plays by Etherege, Wycherley, Behn, and Rowe, novels by Haywood, Richardson, Cleland and Inchbald, and additional works by Rochester and Fielding. Course requirements: a short paper (5-7 pages), an indepth 15-minute class presentation on topic related to sexuality in the Restoration and eighteenth century (e.g. female conduct books, discussions of fops or rakes, “female husbands,”), and a final paper.
ENGL 6450-01 (class#12006)  SPECIAL TOPICS IN AMERCIAN LITERATURE: SLAVERY, ABOLITION, AND FREEDOM IN US LITERATURE AND VISUAL CULTURED: (Cutter): This interdisciplinary class will consider the ways in which slavery and freedom were visually represented in the past, and the ways in which they are visually represented today. Why does slavery persist in the US cultural imaginary to such a large degree? In what ways do contemporary artists and authors seek to revise the visual legacy of the past and its representation of the abjection of slavery and the abject status of the enslaved? A variety of genres and forms will be considered such as novels, graphic narrative, photographs, illustrated books, slave narratives, children’s books, short stories, and films, as well as material cultural objects such as abolitionist sugar bowls, memorabilia from Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and action figures from the movie Django Unchained. Critical readings that deal explicitly with the visual legacy of slavery and freedom will be included alongside more broad-based texts on visual theory. Time will also be spent considering regimes of punishment via Michel Foucault’s foundational text, Discipline and Punish. Primary texts: John Gabriel Stedman, excerpts from Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam (1796); Amelia Opie, The Black Man’s Lament (1826); Moses Roper, Narrative of the Adventures and Escape of Moses Roper (1830; 1849); George Bourne, Picture of Slavery in the United States of America (1834); Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852); Henry Bibb, A Narrative of Henry Bibb, an American Slave (1849); Solomon Northrup, Twelve Years a Slave (1853); Steve McQueen, dir.,  12 Years a Slave  (2013); Kate Chopin, “Désirée’s Baby” and “La Belle Zoraide” (1894); William Styron, Confessions of Nat Turner (1967); Kyle Baker’s Nat Turner (graphic narrative) (2008); Ben H. Winter’s Underground Airlines (2016); Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad (2016); Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained (2013); artwork by Kara Walker, Glenn Ligon, and Wilmer Wilson IV; photographs of enslavement and freedom; cultural artifacts such as abolitionist sugar bowls, certificates, medallions, and bracelets, Topsy and Little Eva dolls, and action figures from Django Unchained. Secondary texts: excerpts from: Manisha Sinha, The Slave’s Cause (2016); Marcus Wood, Blind Memory: Visual Representations of Slavery in England and America 1780-1865 (2000), and The Horrible Gift of Freedom (2010); Simon Gikandi, Slavery and the Culture of Taste (2011); Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Right to Look: A Counterhistory of Visuality (2011); W. J. T. Mitchell, Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation  (1995); Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish  (1975); Wallace and Smith (ed.), Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity (2012); Michael Chaney, Slave Image and Black Identity in Antebellum Narrative (2008). Requirements: Oral presentation leading to a short paper and a final seminar paper (15-25 pages) that engages primary texts as well as historical and theoretical contexts.
ENGL 6500-01 (class#12007) SEMINAR IN LITERARY THEORY: POSTCOLONIAL STUDIES: THEORIES AND DEBATES: (Shringarpure):   Postcolonial studies is an academic discipline that emerged in the 1970s to explore, investigate and theorize the long duration of European colonialism and its afterlives. Though the term “postcolonial” originates in political science, its theoretical home has always been in literary studies perhaps due to the academic locations of its foundational thinkers such as Edward Said, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and Gayatri Spivak. In this seminar, we will take a historical approach that will span theories of anti-colonialism, tricontinentalism and Third World-ism right up until postmodernism, globalization and digitality. We will focus on postcolonial debates that frame and complicate questions of empire, race, gender, sexuality, translation, literary and visual representation, the canon, nationalism, and aesthetics. We will start with excerpts from Marx and Freud since they were both key influences on postcolonial theorists. Readings will include Aime Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, Albert Memmi, Anne McClintock, Michel Foucault, Gayatri Spivak, Neil Lazarus, Achille Mbembe, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Franco Moretti amongst others. This course will be taught as a seminar. Students will prepare three presentations and take a midterm and final exam. In addition, students will also prepare an annotated bibliography of fiction and poetry that operate as theory.
ENGL 6600-01 (class#12008) CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP: NON-FICTION: (Barreca):  Forthcoming. Experienced and novice creative writers alike are welcome in this workshop. “Beauty and Terror,” our focus, stems frobut really, what does it mean? In fact, isn’t this an outrageous statement? As we watch real terror from across the globe on the news, doesn’t Rilke make us cringe a little? And yet, beauty exists, sometimer on the book of the week or on a craft issue we’re considering at that point. Likely authors we’ll read include Anthony Hecht, C.D. Wright, Juliana Spahr, Joshua Mehigan, Larry Levis, Claudia Rankine, Averill Curdy, Eula Biss, and Maggie Nelson.

ENGL 6750-01 (class#12009) SEMINAR IN SPECIAL TOPICS IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: ENTRAPMENT AND ESCAPE IN RECENT BRITISH AND IRISH WOMEN’S FICTION: (Lynch):  We will undertake a sustained interrogation of the ways in which female protagonists in recent British and Irish fiction succeed or fail in their attempts to break free from a variety of constraints and achieve individuation and autonomy. The novels throughout the course will be twinned (see reading list below) with each success story being accompanied by a comparable text in which the protagonist fails to disengage from her constraints. My first pairing includes our only pre-1900 text, Jane Eyre, since it is a foundational novel in the context of our interrogation, and offers rich material for study in the colonial context when paired with Rhys’ The Wide Sargasso Sea. We will examine the texts through feminist and cultural theoretical lenses; for example, Gilbert’s feminist reading of Jane Eyre analyzes Jane’s unlikely “pilgrimage towards selfhood” in the context of patriarchist repression, whereas a cultural critic like Elsie Michie attends to “the troubling problem of colonial dominance.” The pairing of Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea, and the application of critics like Michie and Spivak to both texts, will allow the students to investigate Jane’s position as one of privilege when compared to the demonization of the colonized Bertha. The students will also be asked to build annotated bibliographies inclusive of a variety of seminal and recent approaches to each individual text. Our investigation will attend to the forces determining each woman’s trajectory, in an effort to understand its causes. Our paired texts will focus on cultural and historical context (our Bowen and Johnston pairing, for example, interrogates the very different outcomes for two young women coming of age during the Irish War of Independence), love and marriage, sexual expression, the limits of the heterosexual “family cell,” and other appropriate concerns. We will throughout, analyze the ways in which these outcomes are dependent upon nationality and chronology. What changes do we note as we move from England to Ireland and as we travel through linear time, and why?

Each pairing will be accompanied by secondary reading specifically chosen for its relevance to the texts under consideration. Requirements include a 10-page paper suitable for presentation at a conference, to be delivered in class so that peer review can be offered. Students will also prepare an annotated bibliography on one of our authors and write a 20+ page paper, ideally one that they can revise for submission to a scholarly journal.
Primary Texts: Pairings will include:
Bronte, Jane Eyre, and Rhys, The Wide Sargasso Sea.
Drabble, The Millstone, and Weldon, The Cloning of Joanna May.
O’Brien, The Country Girls Trilogy (here we have a triad rather than a pairing, set in Ireland and England).
Bowen, The Last September, and Johnston, The Old Jest.
Winterson, Oranges are Not the Only Fruit and Donoghue, Hood.
Boylan, Holy Pictures, and Enright, The Forgotten Waltz.
Secondary Reading
We will engage with an appropriate selection of appropriate theoretical and critical sources, following the guidelines stated above. Readings will range from the seminal (Gilbert and Gubar’s The Madwoman in the Attic) to more recent studies by Homi Babha, Gayatri Spivak (“Three Women’s Texts and a Critique of Imperialism”) Jenny Sharpe (“The Rise of Women in an Age of Progress”), and Kathryn Conrad (Locked in the Family Cell: Gender, Sexuality, and Political Agency in Irish National Discourse).

Spring 2017 Seminars

ENGL 5160-01/02 (class#22592/22593) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT: (Ford Smith):  This seminar provides the space and opportunity to discuss the contours and direction of your intellectual career at UConn and beyond. Our work will balance theoretical and practical approaches to academia and their intersections. Throughout the semester, we will discuss larger issues and questions about the profession, such as the myriad cultures of academia, the politics of diversity and difference in university settings, the role of humanities in the corporate university, and the changing nature of the job market for English PhDs, including opportunities in alt-ac employment. We also will develop concrete strategies to navigate the professional expectations that underpin a career in literary studies: writing and publishing in scholarly journals, responding to revise-and-resubmit reports (which will include some vital talk about failing in academia), locating and working in archives, presenting and networking at conferences, thinking strategically about your research and teaching agenda, applying for grants and fellowships, composing instrumental documents such as CVs and research statements, reviewing articles and books, writing letters of recommendation, and designing effective and relevant upper-level syllabi. Participants will be expected to engage in class discussion and complete a series of writing assignments and workshops, most geared toward producing a publishable scholarly article.
ENGL 5430-01 (class#22594) AMERICAN LITERATURE III (1865-1924): (Cutter):  This class will focus on key historical events/developments in the U.S. post-Civil War period and how they are reflected and refracted in literary texts written into the 1920s and early 1930s. These events will include: 1) the aftermath of slavery; 2) the “conquest” of the frontier; 3) the “woman” question; 4) discourses of miscegenation, race, and eugenics; 5) fascism, class, and war, and 5) transnationalism. Music and art will also be studied as well as materials on the historical contexts. We will end the class by reading Caroline Levander’s recent text, Where is American Literature? (2013) to consider whether the term “American literature” accurately describes a body of writing that has always been transnational, multilingual, and mobile.
Texts will include: Charles Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman; Mark Twain, Pudd’nhead Wilson; W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folks (excerpts); Henry James, Daisy Miller; Theodore Dreiser, Sister Carrie; Charlotte Perkins Gilman, “The Yellow Wallpaper” and “Spoken To”; Kate Chopin, The Awakening, “La Belle Zorãide,” and “Désirée’s Baby”; Short stories and memoirs by Mary Wilkins Freeman, Sarah Orne Jewett, Ambrose Bierce, María Christina Mena, Zitkala Sa, Alice Dunbar Nelson; Willa Cather, My Antonía; Sui Sin Far, Mrs. Spring Fragrance and other Stories; María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, The Squatter and the Don; Stephen Crane, “The Open Boat” and “The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky”; Jack London, Call of the Wild; Rudyard Kipling, “The White Man’s Burden”; Charles Eastman, excerpts from The Soul of an Indian or from From the Deep Woods to Civilization; Poetry by Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Miriam Tane, Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt, and others; Jane Adams, Twenty Years at Hull House; Meridel Le Sueur, “Women on the Breadlines” James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man; Nella Larsen, Passing or Quicksand; Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time; T.S. Eliot, “The Waste Land”; F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby; Caroline Levander, Where is American Literature?
Requirements: Short paper; long paper; oral presentation.
ENGL 6200-01 (class #22595) SEMINAR IN CHILDREN’S LITERATURE: (Capshaw):  This course will focus on the history and theory of graphic novel.  We will explore a variety of approaches to the genre, from superhero narratives to manga, from underground comix to graphic memoir.  Alongside the narratives we will read secondary sources that explore aesthetic and theoretical debates within the field.  We will also develop an understanding of the ‘grammar’ involved in reading a panel, page, and image sequence.  Our course will pay special attention to the intersection of comics with other modes of visual representation, including photography, film, and new media.
ENGL 6310-01 (class# ) SEMINAR IN BEOWULF: (Hasenfratz):  Beowulf occupies a unique position in English literary history as one of the very first canonical texts, despite a number of ironies that surround it: 1) the poem exists in a unique manuscript copy (London, British Library, Cotton Vitellius A.xv) and may not have been widely read before the late 19th century. 2) Although it is often thought of as a national epic, it is not set in England but in Scandinavia. 3) Scholars have not been able to agree finally about when (or where) it was written, and the four century span between its earliest and latest possible dates makes the consideration of its historical context a very dodgy business. We will read the poem in the original Old English, review its long critical reception with an eye to recent work, and delve into the history of its translation into English and other languages. The ability to read Old English will put you at a definite advantage but is not an absolute requirement. Both poets/makers and scholars are welcome. Assignments: a substantial oral report and bibliography, a book review, and a seminar paper / creative project.
ENGL 6315-01 (class# ) SEMINAR IN MEDIEVAL LITERATURE:  MATERIALISMS FOR OLD BOOKS:  (Tonry):  Spines, leaves, bindings, headings, feet with notes, cycles of production and reproduction: we know books as bodies, as material things that are simultaneously shaped objects and shaping cultural and political forces. How, where, and why do we engage this materiality in our work with texts? And what are the assumptions and consequences of our methods? This course will address these questions through a broad focus on premodern material texts; however, students working in other fields and historical areas are warmly welcome.
The course will begin with a brisk, friendly tour of the ‘material’ as a category in contemporary literary studies. With the aim of creating a map of materialisms, we will cover a selection of theoretical readings ranging from cultural materialists like Raymond Williams to ‘new materialists’ such as Jussi Parikka. (No prior theoretical expertise is required; part of the goal of this course is to introduce a critical conversation.) The second third of the course will test and challenge these theoretical frameworks by putting them into conversation with material texts in both manuscript and early print. We will consider selections from canonical authors (Chaucer, Lydgate, Skelton, Shakespeare, or as determined by the interests of participants), as well as sample some less familiar texts and genres. The last third of the course will focus on specific case texts selected by seminar participants in conversation with me.
Requirements include short response papers; a proposal for a material text case study; and a seminar paper.
ENGL 6330-01 (class #) SEMINAR IN 18th CENTURY LITERATURE: WOMEN WRITERS: (Marsden):   In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf wrote, “All women together ought to let flowers fall upon the tomb of Aphra Behn, for it was she who earned them the right to speak their minds.”   Aphra Behn was just the first in a long line of women writers who entered the literary marketplace in the years after 1660.  This course would examine a range of female writers and means of production during the Restoration and eighteenth-century, the age when women first established themselves as professional writers and when women readers became important consumers of literature.  The course will explore a variety of genres, including drama and the theater; the development of the novel as a prime venue for women’s writing; poetry, with a special focus on working-class women poets; and periodical and pamphlet writing.  Authors read could include:  Aphra Behn, Catherine Trotter, Mary Pix, Delarivier Manley, Anne Finch, Eliza Haywood, Jane Barker, Hannah Cowley, Frances Burney, Elizabeth Inchbald, Maria Edgeworth, Ann Radcliffe, among others.  Course requirements: class presentations, one short (5-7 page) paper, weekly response papers, final research paper.
ENGL 6400-01 (class#) AMERICAN ETHNIC LITERATURE:  POST-RECONSTRUCTION AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE: (Salvant):   This course will consider African American literary production amid and in response to what W.E.B. Du Bois called the “splendid failure” of Reconstruction. The literature of this period is written against the backdrop of the Civil War’s aftermath, the successes and failure of Reconstruction, and the upheavals and redirection of African American culture wrought by these historical changes. Historical concerns will include questions of land, labor, suffrage, and education, the rise and decline of African American political representation, the contentious battle over approaches to “black uplift,” the surge of political activism by African American women, debates over the uses of black folklore, and the politics of black dialect (just to name a few). We will examine the role that African American literature has played in defining what is “post” about the post-Reconstruction moment, that is, how key texts and authors crafted the terms and major concerns of Reconstruction’s legacy and articulated the post-Reconstruction state of affairs shaping African American literature and culture. While the texts that we will read help to define and address jim Crow politics and culture, they also constitute a vibrant period of African American literary history. Here African American writers produced some of the texts that would shape African American literary history, literary criticism, and African American political and philosophical thought for the next century. Although perhaps even less thematically and ideologically cohesive than the later Harlem movement, African American literature produced during the late nineteenth century witnesses the development of the formal and thematic concerns that characterize a distinctly African American literary tradition, but of course not without the inevitable political and artistic tensions and debates, which we will explore. In addition to the primary literature, we will engage a selection of secondary material demonstration the impact of this period on the trajectory of African American literary criticism. Primary readings might include: The Marrow of Tradition, The Conjure Woman, short stories and essays by Charles Chesnutt; Iola Leroy, speeches and essays by Frances Harper; Of One Blood and Contending Forces by Pauline Hopkins; he Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois; Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington; legal, historical and social readings for context; and a good amount of literary criticism focused on this period.
6500-01 (class# 22586) SEMINAR IN LITERARY THEORY:  LYRIC THEORY: (Mahoney):  As Jonathan Culler continues to ask us, “Why lyric?”  At the same time as poetry plays a vibrant role in our culture at large, it is increasingly marginalized in literary studies in the academy. Yet lyric poetry and criticism of the lyric are indispensable to any understanding of the history of literature and literary studies. (Is it conceivable to think Romanticism without the lyric?)  This seminar will examine the theorization of the lyric since the late eighteenth century, with particular attention to Anglo-American criticism since the middle of the twentieth century.  (We will take many of our bearings from two recent publications: The Lyric Theory Reader, ed Virginia Jackson and Yopie Prins [Johns Hopkins, 2014], and Jonathan Culler’s Theory of the Lyric [Harvard 2015].) Readings will emphasize such topics as the genesis and transformation of lyric modes; the status of lyric as a trans-historical category; the idea and ideals of the lyric; poetics and prosody; the relation between form, genre, and mode; lyric temporality; New Criticism; formalism and the “New Formalism”; rhetorical reading; close reading; lyric ideology; anti-lyric; historical poetics; and “New Lyric Studies.”  Criticism is likely to include selections from M.H. Abrams, Theodor Adorno, Giorgio Agamben, Walter Benjamin, Cleanth Brooks, Reuben Brower, Jonathan Culler, Jacques Derrida, Northrup Frye, Geoffrey Hartman, Simon Jarvis, Caroline Levine, Marjorie Levinson, Paul de Man, Meredith Martin, Maureen McLane, Marjorie Perloff, Jopie Prins, I.A. Richards, Susan Stewart, Rei Terada, Herbert Tucker, Helen Vendler, René Wellek, William Wimsatt and Susan Wolfson.  Requirements: short weekly writing assignments (500 words), seminar presentation, midterm “conference paper” (10 pg.), and seminar paper (8000 words).
ENGL 6540-01 (class#22628) SEMINAR IN LITERATURE AND HUMAN RIGHTS:  NARRATIVES OF THE REFUGEE EXPERIENCE: (Coundouriotis):  How do we tell the stories of refugees and migrants? This course will examine the figures of the refugee and the migrant as they appear in narratives about them. The focus will be on the analysis of narrative modes across different media (literature, film, photography, etc). We will frame our discussion with attention to legal, historical, philosophical and journalistic discourses that address the plight of refugees. The refugee is a foundational figure for humanitarianism. Deprived of the rights of citizenship, refugees and migrants are among the most vulnerable populations. They occupy contested spaces such as camps, remain in legal limbo for extended periods (sometimes generations), and frequently suffer from trauma, having survived events of extreme violence. The course will trace the development of humanitarian thought on refugees through various story-telling strategies that have been adopted by displaced persons and others speaking on their behalf. At the same time this is literature is frequently presented in the form of testimony so the course will cover some literature on testimony and human rights. Students will be expected to give an oral presentation, to prepare an annotated bibliography and produce a research paper.
ENGL 6550-01 (class#22584) SEMINAR IN RHETORIC AND COMPOSITION: WRITING ACROSS AND BEYOND THE CURRICULUM: (Deans):  A survey of the essential work on writing across the curriculum paired with a survey of scholarship on university/community partnerships that hinge on writing. What do we need to know about how student writers travel beyond first-year writing and through the college curriculum? And what should we know about innovative courses that invite students to write in community contexts? Both sets of scholarship take up the theoretical, political, and practical questions that emerge as novices negotiate new scenes for writing. You need not be a specialist in rhetoric and composition to take this seminar—you just need to be curious about how writers develop over time and across contexts. Assignments include weekly reading responses, a mid-semester review essay, and a seminar paper.
ENGL 6600-01 (class#) CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP: FICTION:  (Litman):   In this seminar we will attempt to create cohesive narrative structures using a combination of genres (poetry, fiction, creative nonficion, literary translations, and perhaps even art work).  Together we will consider what constitutes a hybrid or genre-bending narrative, and we might use as our guides such authors as Anne Carson (and her novel-in-verse Autobiography of Red), Italo Calvino (If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler), W.G. Sebald (Austerlitz), David Markson (This Is Not a Novel), C.D. Wright (One With Others), Fanny Howe (Radical Love), Susan Howe (That This), Maggie Nelson (Bluets and/or Argonauts), Jenny Offill (Dept. of Speculation), Suzanne Buffam (Pillow Book), and/or possibly some others. The students might begin in a genre of their choice, but will be encouraged to experiment with one or more other genres. We will start with a series of exercises to get us going, but eventually we will develop our own narrative projects, portions of which we will workshop in class.

ENGL 6750-01 (class#18173)  SPECIAL TOPICS IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: DISUNITED KINGDOM: 20TH C. BRITISH DRAMA AND THE STATE:  (Burke):  This seminar will examine 20th-and 21st-century British Drama. We will begin with the radical drama of the early 20th-century, give the bulk of our attention to the post-war and progressively post-Empire period, and conclude with the current multicultural and devolutionist movement. We will trace a tradition of subversion emanating from the geographical and ideological peripheries of Britain that encompasses Wilde, Shaw, Osborne, Orton, Arden, Murphy, Pinter, Stoppard, Brenton, Churchill, Duffy, McGuinness, Kay, McDonagh and Williams, among others. Our readings will emphasize how such voices successively challenged mainstream British identity and values, and will highlight the successive historical, political, and cultural contexts of the drama. Contexts will include the querying of Empire in Victorian and Edwardian drama, the post-war/post-Empire Welfare State and its relationship to the emergence of working-class, black, and geographically “marginal” voices in a variety of arts from the 1950s onward, the links between the decriminalization of homosexuality and the abolition of theatre censorship in the 1960s, the rise of Thatcherism, the interrogation of the patriarchal/nuclear family, and the emergency of feminist and queer drama into the 190s, the rise of “Irish theatre” as a deterritorialized brand on the London stage in the recent “Celtic Tiger” period (1990s) within the context of post-war emigration to Britain from the former colonies, and -in light of issues such as the Northern Irish “Troubles” and the 2014 Scottish independence referendum–the ongoing staging of a Disunited Kingdom.

ENGL 6450-01 (class#) AMERICAN STUDIES:  METHODS AND MAJOR TEXTS: AMERCIAN  STUDIES:  (Vials):  This course serves as a survey and overview of American Studies as a discipline and a methodolog, which we will approach through major texts in the field, past and present. We will explore what it means to examine culture through this particular interdisciplinary lens. First institutionalized in the 1950s and 1960s, American Studies was initially organized around the question, “what is an American?” and often sought to answer this question by tracing the ways in which American writers imagined “the Frontier” as myth and symbol. It has since expanded its scope to the study of the United States in a global context, examining the ways in which the nation has been transformed–and how it has shaped other nations and territories–through the transnational flow of cultures, peoples, and institutional power across its boundaries. As our readings will illustrate, contemporary American Studies has drawn insights not just from a range of disciplines, but from a range of other interdisciplines as well, including empire studies, postcolonial studies, comparative ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, Marxism, indigenous studies, and cultural studies.
We will briefly begin with the “Myth and Symbol school” of the 1950s and 1960s then shift our attention to the 1980s, when American Studies was transformed by ethnic studies and cultural studies. However, we will devote most of our time to discussing contemporary directions in the field as established by its major texts published over the last 20 years. These take as their starting point the “transnational turn” of the late 1990s, wherein the discipline increasingly called into question the sanctity of borders and the ideology of empire. We will also devote special attention to how American Studies has provided frames for understanding cultural memory and memorialization, a persistent theme in the field. Readings will consist mainly of scholarly monographs.


PDF Listings of Past and Current Courses

Fall 2004 Spring 2005
Fall 2005 Spring 2006
Fall 2006 Spring 2007
Fall 2007 Spring 2008
Fall 2008 Spring 2009
Fall 2009 Spring 2010
Fall 2010 Spring 2011
Fall 2011 Spring 2012
Fall 2012 Spring 2013
Fall 2013 Spring 2014
Fall 2014 Spring 2015
Fall 2015 Spring 2016 
Fall 2016 Spring 2017