Click on a title for a description box to show, or view listing of all courses for the Spring/Fall 2020/2021. 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 21.
Fall 2020 Seminars
ENGL 5100-01/02 (class#8081/13760) THEORY AND TEACHING OF WRITING (Brueggemann/Blansett): 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. Our work will take place in a highly interactive, collaborative, multi-modal learning environment. The course and its co-requisite 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 6500-02 (class#13295) SEMINAR IN LITERARY THEORY: RELIGION AND POSTSECULARITY: (Codr): This seminar – open to and welcoming of students from all fields, time periods, and global literatures – is organized by a few introductions and by a diverse and exciting set of questions. As for the introductions, we will read and discuss postsecular theory and some of the conversations that have arisen under that heading in the last 30 years or so, so that you might find ways to make use of such theory in your own research and writing. We will read some very recent, exemplary postsecular literary and cultural criticism – including a 2020 special issue of the journal edited by the instructor on postsecularity and the postcritical turn. And you will be introduced to postsecular scholars personally, by way of online interactions/interviews.In the course of our reading and discussions, we will ask and hopefully answer some questions concerning the nature, meaning, and historical force of secularization. What is secularization? What is the secularization thesis? What relationship does secularization have to literature, critical reason, and the university? What are the principle problems with secularization as well as the secularization thesis? We will ask, with Talal Asad and Charles Taylor, whether we ever left religion and what is at stake in saying that we did. We will ask, with scholars such as Michael Warner, what role the literature we read (as well as the critical methods we employ when writing) plays in the consolidation of secular Enlightenment epistemologies. We will ask, with Graham Huggan, whether the “post” in “postsecular” is the “post” in “postcolonial.” We will ask, with John Schad and Mark Jordan, whether the affordances of postsecular theory are the same as those of queer theory. And we will ask, with Gayatri Spivak and Guari Viswanathan, what voice religious heterodoxy has in a discourse dominated by secular, Enlightenment values, identities, and formations.
Requirements for the course include two presentations, regular participation in the seminar’s discussions, and a final research project – not a paper, exactly – in which students survey the place of ideas concerning religion, secularization, and postsecularity in their chosen field.
Please feel free to contact Ellen Litman (email@example.com) with any questions about this course.
6750-01 (class#13110) SEMINAR IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: REPRESENTATION OF SOCIAL CLASS IN BRITISH, IRISH, AND U.S. FICTION SINCE 1800: (Lynch):Recent events and popular cultural productions (for example Downton Abbey, the College admissions scandal) underline the continuing importance and relevance of social class divisions on both sides of the Atlantic. We will not erase or avoid the inevitable and indeed necessary intersectionalities of race, gender, and sexuality; however, the primary focus here will be on class structures. The novels listed below, drawn from three countries and two+ centuries, all share an interest in unpicking the threads of the social fabric of their place and time. They interrogate the privileges of the protected classes, the factors facilitating class slippage and redefinition, and the viability of working class empowerment.
Comprehensive coverage of such a topic is of course impossible. Therefore I have selected ten primary texts, each of which offers insights into a particularly relevant place and time. For example, Brideshead Revisited shines a spotlight on the huge shift in established social hierarchies that took place in England at the end of World War II. I have deliberately chosen some lesser-known novels. Students will be asked to plan an individual research project for the final paper, and can pursue one of two directions. They can choose a text and then delve deep into its particular time and/or place, choosing other texts for comparison. Elements of Style could be examined in the context of other tales of New York privilege. Multimedia projects are encouraged, so an interrogation of Brideshead Revisited could incorporate television series focusing on the same period, like Upstairs Downstairs and the first season of The Crown. Alternatively students can choose to place two or more texts from different times and places in transnational conversation.
Foundation text: Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Barton (1848)
Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (1944)
Maria Edgeworth, Castle Rackrent (1800)
Roddy Doyle, The Commitments (1987)
Claire Kilroy, The Devil I Know (2012)
William Dean Howells, The Rise of Silas Lapham (1884)
Edith Wharton, House of Mirth (1905)
Wendy Wasserstein, Elements of Style (2007)
Ngozi Adichie, Americanah (2014)
The major requirement will be an original research paper, based on the two approaches I list above, and written with the possibility of publication in mind. Preparation for this project will include a proposal indicating the student’s planned approach and choice of primary and secondary sources. Additionally, each student will prepare and deliver a conference-length paper based on a text other than that chosen as the diving board for the research project.
Spring 2020 Seminars
ENGL 5160-01 (class 8825) PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT (Somerset): In this seminar we’ll investigate the different facets of academic life, from practical details such as composing CVs and syllabi through to larger issues such as the role of the humanities in the twenty-first university and the adjunctification of the profession. We will learn about the types of jobs within and beyond the academy that UCONN alumni have made their own, and consider how the various roles you are asked to play as graduate students and in your developing careers might complement one another to form a life worth having. Students will participate in selecting what we focus on, but topics might include activism in a changing profession, diversity and difference in the academy, the academic job market and beyond, working in archives, presenting at conferences, balancing teaching and research, making time for your well-being, applying for grants and fellowships, and how to write in genres such as the book review, the CV, the reader’s report, the letter of recommendation, the teaching statement, the research description, the conference abstract, etc. You will be asked to blog about our readings on a weekly basis, and to complete small writing assignments and participate in class workshops leading to two class projects: a pedagogy assignment that will ask you to develop a syllabus and assignments for a course of your own design, and an exercise in academic publishing (selecting possible journals, revising a course or conference paper into an article, responding to reader’s reports).
ENGL 6330-01 (class#13817) SEMINAR IN EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY: WOMEN AND THEATRE IN THE RESTORATION AND EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY: (Marsden): Scholarly interest in Restoration and eighteenth-century theatre has grown tremendously in the past decade; conferences feature panels presenting new directions in theatre and performance research, and the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies recently established a caucus dedicated to the study of theatre and performance. This course takes advantage of these new developments in order to explore one important aspect of this subject: the role of women in the theatre.
After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, English theatre changed radically, and women were a significant component of these changes. In December 1660, the first professional actress appeared on the public stage, followed shortly after by the advent of the Aphra Behn, first professional female playwright. The role of women in the audience became the subject of heated debate. This course traces the diverse role women played, as actors and audiences, playwrights and the subjects of plays. Works read would include plays by Behn, Pix, Manley, Trotter, Centlivre, Burney, and Inchbald, Charlotte Charke’s notorious narrative, and excerpts from works by Austen and other contemporary writers. These works would be supplemented by historical scholarship on the actress and on female audiences, studies of specific playwrights/actresses, and recent more theoretical studies performance and celebrity and spectatorship. The course would progress in a roughly chronological manner in order to give students the opportunity to study the changing attitudes toward women’s role in the theatre and in society. This course does count toward the WGSS certificate. Requirements: weekly response papers, one presentation on a significant female theatrical figure, short paper on a related primary text, and final research project.
ENGL 6750-01 (class#13825) SEMINAR IN AMERICAN LITERATURE: QUEERNESS IN LITERATURE, 1870-1930: (Breen): This course examines literature that responded to and, in some cases, informed late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century cultural, legal, medical, and political discussions of racial, sexual, and gender otherness. The course will pay special attention to both realist and experimental forms of writing, and it will consider both of these representational strategies within Modernism. We will read examples of “queer” (or is it queer, in the current sense of the term?) literature written between 1870 and 1930 (together with relevant pieces of literary criticism). While focusing primarily on these texts, we will also discuss selections from the following:
modern/contemporary feminist and queer theory and gender and sexuality studies; and fin de siècle and early twentieth-century excerpts from scientific writing (eg: Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis, Hirschfeld, Freud), general discussions and overviews of sexuality (eg, Carpenter, Prime-Stevenson), and essays women’s rights and lesbian rights (eg, Anna Rüling and Anita Augspurg). Literary texts include Sacher-Masoch’s Venus in Furs (on which Krafft-Ebing drew for his description of masochism); Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray; Stoker’s Dracula; Stein’s short story Q.E.D.; Prime-Stevenson’s little known gay novel Imre (one of the few pre-Stonewall works to provide gay characters with a happy ending); Kafka’s Metamorphosis; Forster’s posthumously published Maurice; the oft compared “lesbian Bible” Well of Loneliness by Hall and Woolf’s Orlando; Larsen’s Harlem Renaissance classic Passing; and Barnes’s haunting Nightwood. Stated in slightly different terms, this course takes as its starting point the production of sexuality as a scientific identity category at the end of the nineteenth century in Europe, the UK, and the US. This beginning necessarily introduces a particular kind of narrative for understanding LGBTQ identities, acts, and behaviors: a narrative that foregrounds Western, industrialized, capitalist, and imperialist definitions of gender and sexuality with their attendant race- and class-based hierarchies. We will explore this narrative primarily in terms of literature. We will also engage selections by contemporary theorists who, in building on, countering, de-centering, and complicating that narrative, produce their own narrative possibilities. Requirements will include a longer paper and a presentation.
6750-01 (class# 13964) SEMINAR IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: DYSTOPIAS: (Eby): Both Frederic Jameson and Slavov Žižek have asked, why is it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism? Dystopian literature has long been obsessed with social stratification, often presented most starkly in terms of economic class but increasingly also involving other factors such as race and gender. A little fewer than half of the readings are twenty-first century North American neoliberal dystopias (probably Erdrich’s Future Home of the Living God, Whitehead’s Zone One, Roth’s The Plot Against America, Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story, Lee’s On Such a Full Sea, Eggers’s The Circle, and Atwood’s Oryx and Crake). Equally, these novels demand that we examine how race, ethnicity, gender, disability, and sexuality map onto dystopias.But with the express intent of making the seminar appeal to a wider cadre of students (and because the contemporary obsession with dystopian narrative cannot be understood without historical context), the syllabus also offers a series of mini-contexts, albeit necessarily truncated. One such context is the trilogy of early- to mid-century European novels that hugely impacted not only subsequent dystopian narratives but also how public discourse imagines the future and even the end times (Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, and Zamyatin’s We). A second context is provided by two influential US dystopias from earlier in the twentieth century (Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here and London’s Iron Heel). The third mini-context looks further back (and is admittedly almost laughably selective), but since the dystopian genre must itself be understood within the context of utopian literature, we also will read More’s Utopia and Bellamy’s Looking Backward (one of the biggest bestsellers of the 19th c in the US). The fourth context consists of recent theoretical texts that approach the idea of end times from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Thus, rather than reading a string of journal articles for secondary readings alongside the novels, we will examine substantial portions of such works as David Harvey’s 17 Contradictions and the End of Capitalism, Slavov Žižek’s Living in the End Times, and anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s stunning The Mushroom at the End of the World: Of the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins. Not coincidentally, all three titles contain the word “end.”
Students will be welcomed to tailor research and writing to their own interests and field, and alternative assignments to the standard research paper will be considered. Baseline requirements: one 8-10 page conference-style paper and one full dress 18-20 page paper (which can be a revision and expansion of the shorter paper). Finally, each student is expected to help lead discussion for two class periods. This discussion-leading (which I call co-teaching, and on which I provide written feedback) makes not only student interest but also pedagogy explicit components of the course.
ENGL 6750-03 (class # 16854) SEMINAR IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: RADICALISM, GENTRIFICATION, AND SERIAL MURDER: LONDON’S EAST END, PAST AND PRESENT: (Morrison, Visiting NEAG Professor): Jack the Ripper’s stomping grounds. Organized crime. Sweated labor and poverty. The birthplace of socialist and anarchist movements. Yuppies sipping lattes. Ethnic and religious diversity. A microcosm of the world. In the span of four hundred years, the region to the east of the Tower of London, down both sides of the River Thames, has undergone a series of transformations. In the sixteenth century, it was arable land with a few dispersed villages. By the nineteenth century, it was one of Europe’s worst urban slums and an object of investigation for literary writers, social scientists, philanthropists, Salvationists, and journalists with a bent for the sensational. Today, owing to gentrification, the area includes neighborhoods of great affluence—chic restaurants, exclusive retail shops, and some of London’s most expensive real estate—alongside boroughs of extraordinarily straitened circumstances, where life expectancy is some fifteen years lower. As it has evolved, the East End has served as the birthplace of radical political and social movements and as the principal site for a variety of diasporic communities: French Huguenots, fleeing religious persecution; Jews, escaping the pogroms in Eastern Europe and Russia; and Bengali Muslims, driven from their homeland by conflict and famine.In this seminar, we will sample the collection of writings on the East End and its residents, including social-realist fiction, creative nonfiction, memoir, manifestos, exposés, early modernist texts, and Christian evangelical polemics. We will also consider cinematic representations of this iconic area of the city. While students will be provided with a broad introduction to the spatial turn in literary and cultural studies through this case study, they will also gain valuable professional knowledge by contributing to the production of a scholarly volume, A Companion to London’s East End. Together we will learn how to create an alphabetically organized, cross-referenced work; conduct primary research to identify topics, genres, peoples, and places for inclusion; and research and write entries (which may be incorporated into the volume with attribution to each author).
Course requirements include: 20 pages of critical writing (which may take a number of different forms, to be discussed in our first meeting); formal and informal presentations; short skills-based research assignments; informed and sustained contributions to class discussions.