Graduate Seminars

Click on a title for a description box to show, or view listing of all courses for the Spring 2018/Fall 2018.  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 23, 2017.

Spring 2018 Seminars

ENGL 5160-0 (class#9906) 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 5410-01 (class# 11529) AMERICAN LITERATURE I (Origins to 1776) (Franklin):  Our readings will range widely from the medieval sagas (Eirik’s Saga and Greenlanders’ Saga) and related texts (e.g., Landnámabók) through the surviving/reconstructed texts of Native American groups (e.g., Broken Spears: The Aztec Account of the Conquest of Mexico) and the coordinate European records (e.g., The Letters of Cortés, Cabeza de Vaca’s Relation). Later readings from within what would eventually become the mainland English colonies and then the U.S. will emphasize cultural contestation not only between indigenous and colonizing groups (via a cluster focused on the Pequot and King Philip’s Wars) but also between competing colonizing powers. For this latter emphasis, we will examine both primary documents (including selections from Hakluyt and Purchas; John Smith and William Bradford; “Captivity” narratives; texts by Champlain and other French writers such as Jean-François-Benjamin Dumont de Montigny; other non-English works such as the descriptive and polemical works of Adriaen van der Donck) and a selection of recent scholarly work in several fields (e.g., one of Donna Merwick’s four books on the Dutch in North America; parts of Bernard Bailyn’s The Peopling of British North America; Kathleen DuVal’s The Native Ground: Indians and Colonists in the Heart of the Continent). Our approach to the period of the American Revolution will explore how the demographic array of peoples then in and around the colonies were directly and indirectly affected by that complex event (the varied writings of Olaudah Equiano, St. Jean de Crèvecoeur, Anne MacVicar Grant, and Susanah Rowson, and Gilbert Imlay will provide us with a collective set of answers). My method is interdisciplinaery, immersive, and crosscultural.
ENGL 5530-01 (class #14468) WORLD LITERATURE: (Coundouriotis):  A world literature in English is one legacy of the extended history of the British Empire and its aftermath. Either writing back to empire or appropriating and adapting the English language as their own, postcolonial subjects have shaped a hugely diverse and rich literary history. The focus of our course will be to learn something about the arc of this literary history by reading canonical works as well as works that fall outside established paradigms of reception. A key goal of the course is immersion in the primary literature. We will pay close attention to writers’ own statements about their vocation and understanding of their roles in society. Through the creation of annotated bibliographies, we will study the critical reception and academic dissemination of key texts, and how they have figured in the evolution of critical debates within the field of postcolonial studies. Our focus will be on works from Africa, India and the Caribbean. The assignments for the course (class presentation, annotated bibliography, research paper) will be linked so that students can develop a sustained research focus over the course of the semester. Authors on the syllabus will include Doris Lessing, Bessie Head, Ayi Kwei Armah, Jean Rhys, J.M. Coetzee, Nuruddin Farah, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, Margaret Cezair-Thompson, and Amitav Ghosh among others.
ENGL 5550-01 (class#11531) RHETORIC AND COMPOSITION:  (Deans):  This seminar will cover the most influential figures in composition studies; sample work across several subfields (composition theory, first-year writing, basic writing, writing across the curriculum, writing assessment, second language writing, writing program administration); and survey the diverse research methods used in the field. The course should be of interest not just to those planning to specialize in rhetoric and composition but also to anyone with a keen interest in teaching writing.
ENGL 6315-01 (class#11532) SEMINAR IN MEDIEVAL LITERATURE: THE WILD HISTORY OF THE EXEMPLUM: (Hasenfratz): After the Fourth Lateran Council called for a broad system of lay outreach and education, a number of encyclopedic collections of exempla or sermon stories began to circulate in Europe in the 13th century. The stories in these collections, perhaps surprisingly, are often wildly entertaining, attention-grabbing narratives that draw on the elements of the exotic, the supernatural, the comic, the tragic, and even the salacious. In this seminar we will be examining the long history of the exempla collection, from its origins in the west to its fate in the Early Modern Period. Exempla collections draw their illustrative narratives from a number of sources, many of them outside of Europe, and sometimes from different religious traditions, which should give us an opportunity to explore how global medieval studies can inform our work. The first prominent collection of such sermon stories, the Disciplina Clericalis, was compiled by a Muslim convert to Christianity, Petrus Alphonsus. Others like the Gesta Romanorum are grab-bags of entertaining anecdotes drawn from secular sources followed by allegorizing and moralizing commentary. And in a fascinating irony, many such sermon stories (with their wild and sometimes racy stories) ended up in the jest books of the Early Modern period: the jest book has some of the DNA of an exempla collection in it. We will trace this trajectory over several centuries. Students will have the opportunity to study the use of the exemplum in such texts as Ancrene Wisse, Handlyng Synne, and Gower’s Confessio Amantis as well as Early Modern jest books like A Hundred Merry Tales or Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit (among others).

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).

ENGL 6500-01 (class# 11537) SEMINAR IN LITERARY: AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERARY CRITICISM AND THEORY: (Salvant):  We will read selected texts of 20th- and 21st-century African American literary criticism and theory, ranging roughly from the 1920s to today. Rather than providing a chronological overview, readings in the course will focus on 2-3 particular movements within the critical tradition (such as the vernacular theory, the blues aesthetic, Black feminist criticism). We’ll examine the central claims and projects of each movement and try to attend to linkages between them. Classic texts will often be paired with their (sometimes rebellious) scholarly or intellectual progeny. We’ll become familiar with past movements in order to better understand current trends and debates in African American literary criticism. Before the course begins, students are encouraged to read as many titles as possible from a reading list of primary texts. Assignments will include regular participation, fairly frequent discussion questions, and a 20-25 page seminar paper.
ENGL 6600-01 (class#11538) CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP: POETRY OFF THE PAGE: (Dennigan):  An invitation to actively examine connections between creative practice, shared spaces, contemplation, and compassionate action. The course will likely include the films of Nick Twemlow and Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, records of Wanda Coleman, dream delivery service of Mathias Svalina, plays of Khadijah Queen and Joyelle McSweeney, performances of Cecilia Vicuna, walks of Josh Edwards, text sculpture of Ragnhildur Jóhannsdóttir’–rooted in poems, all–as well as poetry books by Gwendolyn Brooks, Hiromi Ito, and others. Participants will write abundantly. Weekly meetings will be an opportunity to share work and to take part in experiments that explore movement, memorization, collaboration, ephemerality, and community. Final projects will be off the page. Graduate students in all disciplines are welcomed.
ENGL 6700-01 (class#11542) SEMINAR IN MAJOR AUTHORS: DARWIN, HARDY, WOOLF: (Winter):   This course will focus on three major writers whose work will help us to chart a trajectory from late-Victorian to modernist developments in literature, science, and the disciplines. In addition to studying Darwin’s evolutionary theory, we will be particularly interested in these writers’ representations of human psychology, biology, sexuality, the emotions, language, art, and embodiment, particularly insofar as they are viewed as sources of aggression and even war. Texts will include: Charles Darwin: travel writings; excerpts from The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals; Thomas Hardy: Far From the Madding Crowd, The Return of the Native, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, and selected poetry; Virginia Woolf: selected autobiographical writings, Jacob’s Room, To the Lighthouse, Three Guineas, and Between the Acts; selected theoretical writings and criticism. Course requirements include: a 20-page seminar paper; a scholarly literature review paper; two class presentations; class participation; weekly short analysis paper on the class readings.
ENGL 6750-01 (class# 14471) SPECIAL TOPICS IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: THE FINN CYCLE: (Visiting Professor, Geraldine Parsons):  This course considers what was the most popular genre of story and poetry among speakers of Gaelic-languages for almost a millennium and what is now undergoing a resurgence in terms of scholarly interest. Fíanaigecht, or Finn Cycle, literature survives in written texts from as early as about the seventh century AD, and dominated the imagination of medieval and modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic speakers alike, from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries. (An interest in the literature is also evident in the Isle of Man). Dominating the cycle in terms of its length and the scholarship it has generated is the great work Acallam na Senórach ‘The Colloquy of the Ancients’, composed c. 1200, probably in the west of Ireland. That work will give focus to our exploration of the tradition concerning the legendary warrior Finn mac Cumaill and his fían (‘warrior band’); we will consider the shifting conventions of the cycle, the themes of violence and gender, the interplay of oral and written traditions and the question of how this material might express important ideas about collective, including national, identities among Gaels. The primary focus will be on medieval works, but there will be some opportunity to explore the modern tradition. The course focusses on the Irish and Scottish Gaelic language texts concerning Finn and the fían (rather than James Macpherson’s Ossianic ‘translations’ in English). It will include instruction in Old and Middle Irish, to allow texts to be read in the original languages. Assessment will consist of short in-class tests, oral presentations and a final research paper.
AMST 6500 (12858), HIST 6500 (12857), ENGL 6850 (14507) AMERICAN STUDIES: SPECIAL TOPICS; QUEER PASTS, PRESENTS AND FUTURES: (McELYA): This American Studies special topics seminar examines the increasing centrality of the temporal and/or conditions of temporality within Queer theorizing, scholarship, and cultural production in the late-twentieth and twenty-first centuries. While focusing largely on recent works, the class will consider earlier iterations and the deeper American histories of this recent “temporal turn” in LGBTQ scholarship and cultural practices, while simultaneously looking to destabilize—or queer—some of its national and nationalist contours. Connected to this, we will situate the trend in relation to diverse feminisms, intersectionality, postcolonial theory, and Queer of Color Critique. Assignments include a short book review and final critical review essay or primary research paper.

Fall 2017 Seminars

ENGL 5100-01/02 (class#16371) 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#16372) 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 5200-01 (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 5440-01 (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.

6330-01 Seminar in Eighteenth-Century: Literature and Sexuality in the Eighteenth-Century, M 1-3:30; AUST 216

6330-01 (class# 12005) 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 6600-01 (class#12008) CREATIVE WRITING WORKSHOP: NON-FICTION: (Barreca):   “Success means being heard and don’t stand there and tell me you are indifferent to being heard. You may write for the joy of it, but the act of writing is not complete in itself. It has its end in its audience. Writing is a good example of self-abandonment. I never completely forgot myself except when I’m wriiting and I am never more completely myself than when I am writing.” Flannery O’Connor, Habits of Being. This seminar, designed for graduate students with an interest in writing non-fiction with any eye towards publication, assumes a serious commitment both to reading and writing throughout the semester. Many of the students from this seminar have seen their work published in newspapers, literary journals, on-line magazines and newspapers.
Writing: Students will produce seven pieces of writing throughout the semester (between 800-1250+ words each). Each work will focus on that week’s assigned topic. Each student will email his or her finished piece to all the other members of the seminar, including the instructor, by FRIDAY AT NOON. Detailed comments on each essay written for that week will then be submitted to the other members of the seminar, including the instructor, by the following MONDAY AT NOON. Late work— “late” being defined by more than fifteen minutes— will be not accepted under any circumstances; this goes for the deadlines on both Fridays and Mondays. If your work is late, it won’t be read. Period. As a final project, each student will submit four carefully edited and revised essays to the instructor for grading, out of which two will be submitted for publication. Please understand that it is a requirement of the course that two pieces ARE SUBMITTED for publication before or during the final class. Reading and commentary: Students are responsible for reading and commenting in detail on their colleagues’ work; I’ll provide a list of questions. Half your grade for the course will be earned by the thoughtful, judicious and specific commentary you offer your colleagues. We will also read and discuss, in detail, the assigned texts by Atwood, King and Lerner. In addition to deadlines being non-negotiable, attendance at every class is assumed. .

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).

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