Graduate Seminars

Click on a title for a description box to show, or view listing of all courses for the Spring/Fall 2020/2020.  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.

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 5550-01 (class 13815) RHETORIC AND COMPOSITION: PROSE STYLE: THEORY, PRACTICE, PEDAGOGY: (Deans): Style is integral to all kinds of writing—literary, academic, professional, political, digital—and this seminar pursues how to define, analyze, enact, and teach style. We’ll review excerpts of prose from the early modern period through the present; survey relevant scholarship in stylistics and writing studies; ponder the purposes, pleasures, and ideologies of style; experiment with composing in a range of styles; and consider how to teach style in composition, literature, and creative writing courses. Requirements include weekly reading responses or imitations; a mid-semester essay (stylistic analysis of a writer); a class presentation; and a seminar paper or equivalent project. Participants can steer the final project toward their own interests (theory, pedagogy, creative writing, digital humanities, a specific genre or historical period).

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 6400-01 (class #13819) AMERICAN ETHNIC LITERATURE: BLACK GIRL MAGIC: HISTORY, AGENCY, AND FUTURITY IN CONSTRUCTIONS OF BLACK GIRLHOOD (Capshaw):  The course will employ black feminist theory to a range of texts from the late nineteenth century to the present moment, including nonfiction, conduct material, poetry, novels, political statements, and word/image texts. While we will examine fundamental black feminist theorists (hooks, Jordan, Lorde, Crenshaw and others), we will also draw from hip-hop feminisms and formulations of “Black Girl Magic,” or the recent strategy of emphasizing joy and pleasure when describing black girlhood to an audience of young people. While the course will draw from children’s and young adult literature, it is not a class structured through children’s literature as a methodology. It instead takes an ethnic studies emphasis in studying texts aimed at young people and those aimed at adult readers, with an eye towards charting the currents the two bodies of literature share, as well as significant distinctions in how writers approach the subject of black girlhood dependent on audience. Importantly, it will permit students to understand the larger critical context when studying African American literature, and to invest deeply in black feminist theory as a way of unsettling generalizations about how a book for or about the young “works.”
ENGL 6500-02 (class#13963 ) SEMINAR IN LITERARY THEORY: LYRIC THEORY: (Mahoney): As Jonathan Culler and others continue 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? Or Modernism?)  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 important 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 (e.g., the “lyric present”); New Criticism; formalism and the “New Formalism”; rhetorical reading; close reading; lyric ideology; “lyricization”; 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, Virginia Jackson, 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. Readings in lyric poetry will be determined as we proceed, as determined by the (teaching and research) interests of the seminar participants.Requirements: short weekly writing assignments (500 words), seminar presentation, midterm “conference paper” (10 pg.), and final project (traditional seminar paper of app. 7500 words or a DH project).
ENGL 6540-01 (class #11485) SEMINAR IN LITERATURE AND HUMAN RIGHTS: ANTISLAVERY LITERATURE: HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE ATLANTIC WORLD: (Winter):  This course provides an introduction to studies in law and literature, and approaches in the emerging field of literature and human rights, by focusing on the legal and political history of slavery and antislavery in the British Empire, with a focus on the British West Indies. We will begin by reading sections of Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-69) to uncover the connections between personhood as a status at law and the ownership of land and chattels, with particular attention to laws governing real property (land) and inheritances, including primogeniture and entail, as well as relations between masters and servants or apprentices; landowners, tenants, and peasants who labor on the land; husbands and wives; parents and children; and colonial laws governing relations between masters and slaves. We will also study the history of colonial plantations and corporations, and the piecemeal development of the imperial constitution, as well as the reasons for the silence of the common law in relation to colonial slavery, as viewed from the perspective of a series of famous eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century cases concerning the status of fugitive slaves in England, including the notorious case of the slave ship Zong. We will develop these inquiries through readings of novels that explore the problem of legal personhood as a field for both individual subjective and collective political struggle, including slave rebellions in the West Indies. In the process, we will consider the legal dimensions of such common liberal ideas as liberty versus enslavement; free labor; married women’s legal disability and female emancipation; individual conscience and the duties of citizenship; the abolition of slavery; and individual personal rights versus property rights. We will read several new historical studies on the evolution of colonial slave laws and consider the debates over whether abolitionism should be considered as an early human rights movement. We will also pay attention to the interaction of these questions with novelistic generic experimentation in satire, romance, sensation fiction, and realism. In addition to novels by authors including Austen, Collins, Dickens, Earle, Trollope, and Wollstonecraft, and slave narratives by Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince, we will read selections from antislavery poetry, and historical and recent critical studies on slavery and empire, including work by Ian Baucom, Lauren Benton, Colin Dayan, Saidiya V. Hartman, Christine L. Kreuger, Ruth Perry, Edward B. Rugemer, Daniel M. Stout, Christopher Taylor, and Tim Watson. Students seeking pre-1800 credit, including Americanists and those in Francophone studies, may develop projects focused on colonial American slavery or the Haitian revolution. Course requirements include: a 20-page seminar paper; a scholarly literature review paper; two class presentations, one of which may focus on teaching; complete all readings and regular discussion participation; weekly 2-3 page short analysis paper on the class readings.
ENGL 6550-01 (class#13823) SEMINAR IN RHETORIC & COMPOSITION: THEORY AND PRACTICE IN RESPONDING TO THE WRITING OF INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, (DeCapua): One of the central goals of the field of second- (or additional-) language writing has been to provide an understanding of international writers. Research has shown that first-language literacy education can also influence students’ second-language literacy experience. For this reason, an understanding of students’ first-language literacy backgrounds can provide useful insights for the writing teacher. A number of studies have explored the writing experiences of international students in academic settings using qualitative research methodologies. While these studies provide valuable insights into the characteristics and experiences of international writers, the understanding of these writers is still far from adequate. Meanwhile, the numbers of international students on campuses throughout North America are increasing. As a result of the increased population of international students we are encountering in our writing classrooms/one-on-one conferences/writing consultations, it is important to develop an understanding of international writers and their writing by reading primary scholarship in the field. This course will consist of directed investigation of international writers, their unique approaches to writing in English, and “best practices” in responding to that writing. The course will begin with a brief exploration of second language literacy, to provide a foundation on which to build the remainder of the course work and readings. Students will be responsible for reading reflections posted to HuskyCT, as well as responding to the posts of classmates, in order to keep the conversation flowing after that which takes place in class. Other course activities and assignments will include student-led seminar meetings, practice responding to international students’ writing, ethnographic-style observation of an ENG 1003 class, participation in panel discussions with SLW instructors, and the creation of an annotated bibliography of current SLW scholarship. For the final project, students may choose from multiple options that will include a traditional seminar paper and multimodal alternatives.

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.


Fall 2019 Seminars

ENGL 5100-0 (class#9261) 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 (5189) 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 5182-01/02/03 (class#9375/9376/9377) Practicum in the Teaching of Writing: (Blansett):  One credit course. Required of all incoming graduate-student FYW instructors. Practicum in the Teaching of Writing: Guided development of teaching in the University of Connecticut First-Year Writing Program. We will be implementing theories of teaching and writing; meeting program goals and objectives; selecting texts; drafting writing assignment prompts; developing classroom work; guiding peer feedback; reading, responding to and evaluating student work. Supervision includes one-on-one, group, and peer.
ENGL 5150-01 (class #13644) RESEARCH METHODS: (Smith): One-credit course. Monday, 9:30-11 am, AUST 246: 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 6315-01 (class#13645) SEMINAR IN MEDIEVAL LITERATURE: CRUSADES LITERATURE: MEDIEVAL AND MODERN: (V.P.L.K. Norako):  This class meets twice per week for the month of September.  This graduate seminar will focus on the representation of the crusades in medieval and contemporary literature and culture. Our central goal will be to examine both medieval and post 9/11 reimaginings of the historical crusades as a way of gauging how cultures, at times of perceived precarity, tend to produce fictional works that meditate upon and fuel particular sets of aspirations, nostalgias, anxieties, and xenophobias. We will spend ample time examining crusading literature written in late Medieval England (c. 1300-1450), and these texts will include shorter vernacular romances (like Sir Isumbras and Sir Gowther) but also longer works such as the romance Richard Coer de Lyon and The Siege of Jerusalem. Students will also be introduced to accounts of the historical crusades, crusades sermons, recovery treatises, and travel literature in order to get a clear sense of how these romances reflect their cultural surroundings. The modern works we will examine will include the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven, but also the film and graphic novel 300, Frank Miller’s Holy Terror, and the film American Sniper (in addition to a wide array of shorter contemporary works that evoke the concept of crusading). Students will be evaluated on the basis of their preparedness and in-class participation, and will also be asked to lead discussion during one of our class meetings and write a seminar paper (due in early December) on a topic and text of their choosing. Professor Norako can be contacted with questions at
ENGL 6345-01 (class# 13288) SEMINAR IN VICTORIAN LITERATURE:  GROWING UP VICTORIAN: (Smith): This seminar explores Victorian literature and culture through the child, real and imagined. From Dickens’s Little Nell and Oliver Twist to Henry Mayhew’s match girl and James Sully’s evolutionary child specimen, children and representations of them bring to the fore nineteenth-century discourses of subjecthood and human development, progress, class, nation, empire, science, gender, and sexuality. After an initial review of cornerstone texts, primary and critical, we will read literature (for children and adults) and explore artifacts (textual and visual) of Victorian childhood and youth in four overlapping settings: in the classroom, on the streets, in the colonies, and in the laboratory. While one seminar cannot provide an exhaustive exploration of all elements of nineteenth-century childhood, these focal points offer a representative survey of the many uses to which childhood was put—and, occasionally, how children and adults acknowledged, revised, or challenged those cultural scripts. Moreover, two methodological concerns will underpin the semester. First, because the seminar focuses on childhood within a particular cultural moment—and because the structure of the course assumes that a historical understanding of childhood illuminates the literature we read—we will explore methods of conducting historical research, ways of crafting historicist arguments, and the practical challenges of organizing a scholarly argument that relies on close readings, theoretical positioning, and sometimes multiple layers of context. Second, because we will be reading well-known texts alongside lesser-known works, we will confront questions of canonicity and examine the nature and methods of recuperative scholarship. How do we determine the stakes of lesser-known texts? If we determine that such a text is worthy of close study, how do we communicate its relevance? What questions do we ask of texts that are ephemeral, unexamined, or undertheorized? Course assignments will provide students the opportunity to experiment with these questions in their own scholarship.
ENGL 6400-01 (class#13411) AMERICAN ETHNIC LITERATURE: (Burke):  By 1790, one half of the 400,000 US residents who were commonly labelled “Irish” descended from Ulster stock, and the majority of those were Presbyterians of Scottish descent. However, the differentiating coinage “Scotch-Irish” gradually gained currency in response to issues such as anti-immigrant feeling in the early republic, the Second Great Awakening, and the creation of a post-Civil War unified Southern white Protestant identity in opposition to the active citizenship of ex-slaves (Hale; Mitchell). Thus, the influx of poor Irish immigrants after the 1845 Famine merely cemented what had already become a growing chasm between “old” (predominantly Ulster Presbyterian, skilled or eastern seaboard Irish) and “new” (predominantly western seaboard, unskilled and Catholic) Irish-Americans (Miller). In the ensuing ethnic hierarchy of the United States, the older, “whiter” Irishness outranked the more recent, and inter-Irish tensions erupted sporadically in northeastern urban areas where a large population identified as Scots-Irish (Gangs of New York). For the most part, however, Ulster immigrants were subsumed by Anglo-American identity, and into the twentieth century and particularly after the Kennedy era, Irishness became almost exclusively understood as Catholic, urban, and Famine-era in origin. Thus, writers such as Steinbeck and James − whose work engages with Ireland and their Scots-Irish ancestry − are rarely examined in the context of the Irish-American canon. In considering better-recognized twentieth-century depictions of Irish America (Fitzgerald; O’Neill; Smith), we will depart from simply auditing the negative stereotypes that unarguably clung to the post-Famine Irish to discuss how Irishnesss evolved into both the antithesis and the very definition of “American,” paying particular attention to the role that race, class, and religion played in such debates. Thus, we will read Frank Yerby, whose Scots-Irish and African-American parentage will allow us to consider his very post-Gone with the Wind best-seller about an Irish immigrant protagonist, Foxes of Harrow (1946), as an important point of collision for many of the questions considered. Similarly, queer theory will allow us to complicate standard readings of the 1920s dramas of the “lace curtain” Philadelphia Irish of Pulitzer Prize-winning George Kelly. A surprising number of texts pivotal to the seminar are created or set in the immediate postwar period. The 1950s saw a sharp rise in emigration out of Ireland (Brooklyn) even as processes of liberalization, urbanization, and secularization gained a foothold in that country. It was also a period in which Irish tourism and trade agencies began to target what was perceived in Ireland to be a wealthy, assimilated Irish-American cohort (Zuelow). The post-war boom that fueled the midcentury Irish-American fantasy of “return” to bucolic Ireland (The Quiet Man) is the context for narratives of “troubled homecoming” (Lavin’s “Tom”; Donleavy; The Field); despite dizzying seesaws between signifiers of “tradition” and “modernity” in images of Ireland that circulated in postwar America, the reality was that Ireland was neither fully “traditional” in the way promised to tourists nor evenly modernized. Evolving racial stereotypes regarding immigrants are pertinent to the cultural and political invisibility of illegal Irish immigrants of the 1980s (In America), a further period of increased emigration out of Ireland. Such invisibility is implied by an overemphasis in depictions of the contemporary Irish in America as privileged, dual-passport-holding cosmopolites (Kilroy; McCann). This aligns with what Diane Negra calls the recent rise of Irishness as “white ethnicity of choice” in the American identity marketplace.
The seminar will, ideally, encompass a talk by UConn English Ph.D., Chris Dowd (a current UNH professor), whose 2011 study, The Construction of Irish Identity in American Literature, will be an important volume for our course.

ENGL 6450-01 (class#13289) SEMINAR IN AMERICAN LITERATURE: THE CONTEMPORARY LITERARY GENRE NOVEL: (Knapp): Scholars of contemporary literature contend with the challenge of defining a moment that is, by definition, in flux. The present certainly does not lend itself to the discipline of historical analysis, but the process itself is enlightening: what are the politics involved in imagining a present moment somehow different from the past? What does and doesn’t belong and why? Genre fiction offers a particularly fruitful avenue toward understanding the contemporary moment, since it invites us to consider the present in both historical and aesthetic terms: contemporary genres carry the past with them, after all, inviting us not only to historicize these stories, but to use these retooled instruments for uncovering how we historicize within the confines of the present. Indeed, once considered formulaic, dull, and fully complicit with what Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer labeled “the culture industry,” genre has since been embraced by the literary establishment, its conventions and predictability in stark contrast to postmodern fiction’s experimentation and radical uncertainty. We will examine the work of esteemed and emerging literary authors who have turned to a variety of genres—among them, the detective story, espionage, fantasy, the roman a clef, the road novel, the graphic novel, the generational saga, domestic, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, and zombie fiction—to determine how they comment upon our era’s most vexing challenges, such as intransigent racial and economic inequality; interminable war, terror, and slow violence around the globe; grand-scale environmental disasters; and new communication networks that have simultaneously erased geographic boundaries and divided us into an increasingly vitriolic and divided nation. We will read novels in the context of current cultural and theoretical criticism not only to arrive at a provisional sense of what Theodore Martin calls “the problem of the present,” but to assess the state of the field itself, since the turn to genre has also encouraged some scholars (most prominently Franco Moretti) to abandon the practice of close reading and canonization in favor of distance reading and tracing literary trends.Possible texts include Alison Bechdel, Fun Home (2005); Jennifer Egan, Manhattan Beach (2017); Percival Everett, Erasure (2001); Lisa Halliday, Asymmetry (2018); Mohsin Homad; Exit West (2017); Lydia Keisling, Golden State (2018); Tommy Orange, There There (2018); Celeste Ng, Little Fires Everywhere (2017); Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer (2015); Gary Shteyngart, Super Sad True Love Story (2010); Laura Van Den Berg, Find Me (2015); Whitehead, Colson Whitehead, Zone One (2011); and Ben Winters, Underground Airlines (2016).

Assignments include a class presentation that identifies and historicizes a given novel’s indebtedness to a genre or genres; an annotated bibliography; and 18-20-page seminar paper.

6500-01 (class# 10058) SEMINAR IN LITERARY THEORY: EMPATHY ETHICS AND NARRATIVES: (Hogan):  This course will begin by introducing some common cognitive and philosophical ideas about emotion, empathy, and narrative in relation to ethics. We will then discuss a familiar work—perhaps, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl—in terms of those broad concerns. Starting in the third week, I would take part of the class to introduce relevant research in more detail—for example, on the nature of emotion. The rest of the class would be a discussion of the reading (e.g., Matravers), often guided by two of the students. I would also ask students to be prepared to relate the reading to a literary work or film (such as Jacobs). The following classes would follow the same general format, as outlined below. Requirements would include one conference-presentation-type essay (roughly seven pages) and one journal-type essay (roughly eighteen pages). A very, very tentative outline (just to give an idea of how the course will proceed):
Week 1. What is emotion? What is empathy? What is narrative? What is ethical evaluation?
2. Same questions. Jacobs
3.Emotion. Matravers. Jacobs.
4. Emotion. Keen. Jacobs.
5. Empathy. Keen. Satrapi.
6. Empathy and Ethics. Decety. Satrapi.
7. Empathy and Ethics. Decety. Satrapi.
8. Blocking Empathy: Disgust. Shakespeare. (First paper due.)
9. Blocking Empathy: Anger. Shakespeare.
10. Against Empathy. Bloom. Godard.
11. Narrative and Emotion. Haidt. Godard.
12. Narrative and Emotion. Haidt. Mizoguchi.
13. Narrative and Ethics. Mizoguchi.
14. Students on their research projects.
Bloom, Paul. Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion. New York: Harper-Collins, 2016.
Decety, Jean, ed. Empathy: From Bench to Bedside. Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 2012.
Haidt, Jonathan. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York: Pantheon, 2012.
Keen, Suzanne. Empathy and the Novel. New York: Oxford UP, 2010. Matravers, Derek. Empathy. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2017.Literature and Film (the sorts of works I will choose, but maybe not the exact works): Godard, Jean-Luc, dir. Les Carabiniers. Paris: Cocinor, 1963.
Jacobs, Harriet. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. 1861.
Mizoguchi, Kenji, dir. Ugetsu Monogatari. Tokyo: Daiei Studios, 1953.
ENGL 6500-02 (class#13184) SEMINAR IN LITERARY THEORY: MARXIST THEORY AND MARXIST CULTURAL STUDIES: (Vials): Scholars of literature, cultural studies, and American Studies employ a whole critical vocabulary with origins in Marxism, and an examination of these origins is crucial not only to an informed lexicon but also to a comprehensive analysis of social structures. The course aims to provide a historicized, materialist understanding of social class formations and a richer understanding of frequently used terms such as capitalism, class, hegemony, consumption, ideology, reification, globalization, neoliberalism, enclosure, finance, and commodity fetishism. In so doing, it will familiarize students with major works of Marxist theory and cultural studies, tracing the historical trajectory of this discourse as well as selected methodological applications to twentieth and twenty-first century culture and history. We will pay special attention to the intersections of Marxism with critical ethnic studies, feminism, empire studies, and queer theory.
ENGL 6750-02 (class# 10428) SEMINAR IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: NOTHING IN NO-PLACE: UTOPIA IN LITERATURE AND THEORY (Somerset): This topic-based multi-period survey course is designed for students in all fields and periods of literary study, and aims to address our need for instruction in upper-level pedagogy. We will read a range of utopian writing from medieval dream vision through to contemporary science fiction, as well as theorists who critique or embrace utopianism. Premodern texts will be available in translation. Utopian literary texts will include some or all of Mandeville’s Travels, Piers Plowman, Christine de Pizan’s Book of the City of Ladies, The Tempest (including the film version starring Helen Mirren as Prospero), As You Like It, Gulliver’s Travels, excerpted readings from the Faber Book of Utopias ed. John Carey, N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy, William Gibson’s The Peripheral and Agency, and Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer. Theory will include Karma Lochrie’s Nowhere in the Middle Ages, Sara Ahmed’s Willful Subjects, parts of Fred Moten’s consent not to be a single being, and José Muñoz’s Cruising Utopia.
ENGL 6750-02 (class# 13620) SEMINAR IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: MATERIAL TEXTS: (Tribble):  “Material texts” examines some case studies of the material instantiations of literature from the early modern period to the present. We begin with Hamlet, in response to James McLaverty’s famous question, “If the Mona Lisa is in the Louvre, where are Hamlet and Lycidas? What effect does the material of a text have upon writers and readers? How does technology shape readers? In what way can books be seen as cognitive artifacts? How do editors mediate texts to the readers?Among the texts and topics we will discuss: debates around literary, orality, and cognition; Hamlet in its various manifestations (as cue-script, plot, and playhouse manuscript (reconstructed); the ‘bad quarto’; the Folio; later editions); Renaissance poetry, including the question of scribal publication; Northanger Abbey as a case study on circulating libraries, women readers, and the novel; Charles Dickens, Hard Times (issues read and discussed weekly via the Household Words facsimile on the Dickens journal online project (; Material poetry: case studies on William Blake’s and Emily Dickinson’s poems, the digital archive, and debates about materiality and edition; George Gissing,s New Grub Street; seriality and short fiction (selections of Sherlock Holmes stories as published in The Strand Magazine); artists’ books (including a visit to special collections); reading in a digital age: a collection of sources.
We will also read theories and methods of material writing, literacy, reading and cognition, including the work of Johanna Drucker, Kate Hayles, Peter Stallybrass, Jerome McGann, Susan Howe, Christopher Collins, Marian Wolf and others.Requirements; A commonplace book (including reflections and analysis of the process, as well as a pedagogical element (adapting the commonplace book to the undergraduate classroom). Students will be asked to experiment with different kinds of writing practices over the course of the semester (hand writing, letter writing, typewriting, digital writing).Students will choose a literary text from a period that interests them and research its material forms over time. In addition to a final essay, students will present research over the course of the semester, including a brief extract from a proposed edition of the text, a discussion of digitization projects related to their text, and an oral presentation.Students who choose to research a text from before 1800 may receive pre-1800 credit for this course.