Click on a title for a description box to show, or view listing of all courses for the Fall 2018/Spring 2019. 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, March 19, 2018.
Fall 2018 Seminars
Clemens and Graham, Introduction to Manuscript Studies 978-0-8014-8708-8
Joseph Dane, What Is a Book? 978-0-268-02609-7
Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press As an Agent of Change 978052129955
Sebastian Sobecki, Unwritten Verities 978-0-268-04145-8
Mark Rose, Authors and Owners: the Invention of Copyright 9780674053090
Adrian Johns, Piracy 9780226401195 .
We will also explore a variety of contemporary methodologies for understanding early modern theatre, including practice-as-research, repertory studies, the intersections of print and theatrical cultures, cross-gender casting, embodiment and gesture, and authorship/ attributionist debates. Assessment will include two ‘pitches,’ in which you make a case for including a particular play in the repertory; short methodology exercises, and a research essay.
A key analytic for the course engages what cultural critic Lisa Lowe productively characterized as an identifiable “Asian Americanist critique.” As Lowe summarizes, “Asian American culture is the site of more than critical negation of the U.S. nation; it is a site that shifts and marks alternatives to the national terrain by occupying other spaces, imagining different narratives and critical historiographies, and enacting practices that give rise to new forms of subjectivity and new ways of questioning the government of human life by the national state” (Immigrant Acts 29). Correspondingly, students will explore the turbulent interactions among immigration and national identity, exclusion/inclusion, attachment to the nation-state and critiques of it through varied and variegated Asian American literary manifestations.
We will read widely across a range of theoretical texts that defines what constitutes adaptation/appropriation, how adaptation works on both the production and reception ends of communication, and the degree to which the forms and functions of adaptation differ within specific historical and aesthetic contexts. The primary method of weekly study will involve combining theoretical texts with actual examples of adaptation in order to encourage interrogation of each theory’s premises, applicability, and persuasiveness. Regularly adapted hypotexts we will explore include, but are not limited to, stories from Greek mythology (Rilke’s poem “Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes”) and the Old and New Testaments (Aronofsky’s film Mother!); plays such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth (three films including Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood); short stories and novels by such writers as Annie Proulx and Jane Austen; historical events (Davis’s The Return of Martin Guerre and Oppenheimer’s documentary The Act of Killing); and artworks such as the paintings of Vincent van Gogh.
Assignments will include a final seminar paper, a paper proposal and abstracts, and a bibliographic presentation.
Spring 2018 Seminars
ENGL 6420-01 (class#11535) AMERICAN LITERARY MOVEMENTS: THE CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN NOVEL: (Knapp): Literary critics agree that we have moved beyond postmodernism and into a new aesthetic mode, but precisely what that mode is has proven harder to pin down. A variety of periodizing concepts and frameworks have emerged, whether post-postmodernism, late capitalism, neoliberalism, the post-civil rights era, the post-human, or the Anthropocene, in order to define what has been called, as if by default, the Contemporary. Sixteen years into the new century, amidst rapid technological advances and globalization, this course takes up the challenge of defining the current moment by examining a literary form that some have argued is obsolete: the American novel. And yet, American literary production over the past couple of decades has abounded, with some of our most prominent writers exuberantly experimenting with genre fiction—the detective novel, sci-fi, comic books, melodrama– once relegated to the mass market to create new forms entirely. By engaging these works in the context of current economic, political and social circumstances, we will consider the ways in which the novel, as a literary form, has been adapted to respond to conditions particular to the 21st Century: ground-shifting events like 9/11 and the worldwide economic crisis, certainly, but also interminable war and terror around the globe, grand-scale environmental disasters, new communication networks that have simultaneously erased geographic boundaries and divided us into increasingly vitriolic, isolated tribes, and a planet itself hanging in the balance. In order to understand what is truly new about the current literary landscape, we will consider how the contemporary American novel both emerges and diverges from earlier literary periods and trends—not just postmodernism, but also modernism and realism as well as metafiction, minimalism, multiculturalism, and what David Foster Wallace called the “New Sincerity.” We will also read current literary, cultural, and theoretical scholarship to determine how these recent novels imagine or perhaps reimagine and reshape readers’ understanding of being and belonging in a world whose problems demand their response.
Each student will give a 7-10 page comparative presentation on one of the novels in order to situate it alongside an earlier model, as well as write an 18-20-page seminar paper that may or may not expand on this presentation, but will also engage the critical conversation as it is evolving in relatively new platforms such as the Post-45 Collective, the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present, and V21, as well as established venues such as Contemporary Literature, TCL, Modern Fiction Studies, and American Literary History, among others.
6500-01 (class# 11536) SEMINAR IN LITERARY THEORY: THE WAKE OF ROMANTICISM: (Mahoney): [This is not a seminar concerned with Romanticism per se, but with post-structuralism, and the ways in which (what came to be denominated) Romanticism made possible certain inflections of post-structuralist thought. As Terry Eagleton has put it, “we are ourselves post-Romantics, in the sense of being products of that epoch rather than confidently posterior to it.”]Romanticism poses a problem. At the same time as it occupies a pivotal position in literary history (simultaneously the ending of a narrative “from Classic to Romantic” and the beginning of a narrative “from Romantic to Modern”), it calls into question the very legitimacy of such concepts as literary periodization, historical narrative, the “concepts” of criticism, and even discipline and disciplinarity. In doing so, Romanticism also names a particular moment when literature (according to Maurice Blanchot) first begins to think (about) itself as such. To that end, Romanticism marks a seminal moment in the formulation and institutionalization of what we now call literary theory – that is to say, both the theory of the literary and (as Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy formulate it) the understanding of theory itself as literature. Partially because of these and other critical cruxes, Romanticism invariably seems equally to compel and to resist interpretation. Consequently, this seminar takes as one of its central premises that (as Paul de Man put it) “the interpretation of romanticism remains for us the most difficult and at the same time the most necessary of tasks.” Integral to this difficulty is that (again citing de Man), “we have experienced [Romanticism] in its passing away” – that is to say, we continue to read and write, to act and interpret, in the wake of Romanticism.
Writers to be considered include A. W. and F. Schlegel, Fichte, Kleist, Schelling, Hegel, Coleridge, Benjamin, Blanchot, Hartman, Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy, and de Man, as well as numerous recent and contemporary critics, e.g., Giorgio Agamben, Ian Balfour, Cathy Caruth, Jonathan Culler, Rodolphe Gasche, Carol Jacobs, and Marc Redfield. (All assigned readings will be in English.) Likely requirements include weekly response papers (500 words), one oral seminar presentation, midterm conference paper (10 pp), and seminar paper (7500-8000 words).
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