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 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.
Fall 2019 Seminars
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.
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.
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.
PDF Listings of Past and Current Courses