Click on a title for a description box to show, or view listing of all courses for the Fall2021/Spring 22. All students must receive permission from the instructor and/or the Graduate English Office in order to enroll. To officially register for the course, please use the PeopleSoft Class Number (PSC#) in parenthesis. Registration through PeopleSoft starts on Monday, March 22, 2021.
If you have finished coursework and hold a GA, please register for GRAD 6950-06, class number 4323 for Fall 2021 (1218) term.
Fall 2021 Seminars
ENGL 6500-001 (class# 13126) SEMINAR IN RHETORIC AND COMPOSITION: CLASSICAL RHETORIC AND THE INSTITUTION OF SLAVERY: (Winter): This course traces connections among classical rhetoric, political theory, and human rights by focusing on the history of the institution of slavery from antiquity through the nineteenth century. Rhetoric is linked to slavery in Plato’s Gorgias: the sophist tells Socrates that the rhetor has the power to make other men his slaves by persuading the multitude. But rhetoric also becomes a tool for the enslaved to use against their oppressors in classical tragedy and historiography and in late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British and American abolitionism, arguably one of the first modern political movements explicitly to articulate a modern definition of universal human rights as a basis for social, political, and legal activism. The vulnerable or powerful body and speech of the rhetor/slave—including female rhetors/slaves—as well as the history of political theories of slavery/mastery and the rhetorical antithesis of slavery/freedom in the history of political thought will be key areas of focus throughout the term. The course serves as a graduate level introduction to classical rhetoric, and it will also provide an opportunity to consider the various roles of political rhetoric in the history of democratic societies and under imperial rule. Finally, students will have a chance to learn about new antiracist historical, critical, and teaching approaches across the fields of Classics, rhetoric, and the history and literature of slavery/abolition. The course readings can provide students with a basis for teaching general education courses including Classical Greek and Roman texts and genres, and could also enable research on Medieval rhetorical traditions for students in Medieval Studies. Comparative research projects on transatlantic slavery are also possible. Pre-1800 credit in English can be fulfilled with approval of DGS; approved for credit toward Grad Certificate in Human Rights.We will read important works of political philosophy dealing with slavery and human rights, and end with a set of case studies on American and British abolitionist rhetoric, with particular attention to anti-slavery writings by Thomas Clarkson, Ottobah Cugoano, and William Lloyd Garrison, and slave narratives by Olaudah Equiano, Mary Prince, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Jacobs. Readings in classical rhetoric, philosophy, and literature in translation include works by: Euripides, Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian, Longinus, and Augustine; political philosophy by Locke and Hegel; secondary critical readings on the history of abolitionism and human rights, and critical theories of plantation slavery, capitalism, human rights, and ant-racism. Texts read in English translation or in original languages
Two oral presentations, one of which may be focused on teaching; a weekly 2-3 page short analysis paper focused on the class readings for the week; literature review essay on a topic of your choice relevant to your final paper; final seminar paper, 20-25 pages, or two short papers, 10-12 pages each.
- A commonplace book
- A speech composed and delivered using the classical theater-of-memory techniques studied in class
- A narrated walking-tour of a place of memory
- A semester-long project on memory in text chosen by the student (students seeking pre-1800 credit must do a final project/essay on a pre-modern or early modern text)
ENGL 6750-002 (class# 13652) SEMINAR IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: LABOR, UTTERANCE, AND MEANING IN THE MARITIME WORLD: (Bercaw-Edwards): For as long as history has been recorded, sailors have stepped on shore with a tale to tell. Until the laying of telegraph cables across oceans finally outpaced sailing ships in carrying messages in the 1850s, the sight of a sail on the horizon might be the first herald of news of many kinds: political, cultural, financial, or personal. The figure of the sailor as a storyteller stretches back beyond the earliest written records. The gulf of ocean between the sailor and the port and the events or circumstances that sailor described lent a paradoxical mix of authority and doubt regarding stories sailors told. The writers we will consider in this course inherited willingly or unwillingly the long heritage of these sailor storytellers. This course will examine the chronological development of a literature wherein the sea functions as physical, psychological, and philosophical setting. The course will begin by investigating early uses of the sea in literature and ways in which early works influenced later writings. It will continue with the use of the sea in contemporary literature and literature by writers of color. Through the use of literary theory and maritime history, the course will establish the context in which these works were produced as well as closely examining the works themselves. The requirements for the course will include presentations, several short papers, and a longer final essay.
Spring 2021 Seminars
6500-01 (class# 14250) SEMINAR IN LITERARY THEORY: THEORY OF IRONY: (Mahoney): Distance Learning. Since at least Quintilian (who defined irony as “saying something other than is understood”), irony has been “understood” both philosophically, as a mode of life or a general(ly skeptical) relation to knowledge and understanding, and rhetorically, as a figure of speech, a trope (for many, from Schlegel to de Man and beyond, the master trope, or “trope of tropes,” another name for the highest poetic power). This seminar takes as one of its central concerns the question (to paraphrase Kevin Newmark) of what it is about irony – as both an object of serious philosophical reflection and as a literary technique and trope – that makes it a seemingly inevitable topic for seemingly endless critical debate (beginning with Plato, and never ending…). The seminar will not approach irony as a “concept” (Kierkegaard’s highly ironic title, The Concept of Irony), because of course irony is not a concept. Nor will it presume to outline “the theory” of irony, since irony (certainly for Schlegel) precludes such a definitive theoretical statement (hence the fragmentary imperative of Jena Romanticism). Nor will it propose an historical or thematic study of irony: since irony initiates a deflection of meaning which it does not presume to control, it necessarily marks a divergence from thematic and historical modes of understanding. Instead, this seminar proposes an examination of the trope, and tropological power, of irony that may be of interest to students of rhetoric, of literature, of literary theory, and of the human condition (not least in the second decade of the twenty-first century). It takes seriously the enigmatic tropological power of irony and seeks to address both as fully and as insufficiently as possible Schlegel’s haunting question: “What gods will be able to save us from all of these ironies?”With readings in English and American literature and criticism, as well as French and German literature and criticism, principally from the seventeenth century through the twenty-first century, and organized in terms of a critical trope and methodology, this seminar will not be confined by any traditional period boundaries and may be of interest to students of rhetoric, British literature, American literature and criticism, French literature and criticism, and German literature and criticism. As a course in literary theory – specifically here “theory of irony” – the content of the course is the method (consequently, the distinction between “primary” and “secondary” texts is unusually porous). The (likely) readings listed below are principally “critical” (but not necessarily “secondary” sources), many of which can provide jumping-off points for our consideration of more traditionally “literary” sources (e.g., de Man’s readings of E. T. A. Hoffman and Charles Baudelaire; Newmark’s analysis of J. M. Coetzee; Kontantinou’s engagements with the work of Ralph Ellison, Kathy Acker, and David Foster Wallace). Additional “literary” readings will be determined according to the interests of the students enrolled in the seminar (i.e., the syllabus will be constructed in part to reflect these interests).
Likely requirements: attendance and participation; weekly writing (500+ words, thesis-driven); mid-term “conference paper” (10pp); oral presentation on critical texts to the seminar; teaching presentation (how would you teach a certain text in an undergraduate seminar?); final project (seminar paper, 7-8000 words, or DH project or … ?).
Technical writing. Business writing. Workplace writing. Copy writing. Grant writing. Editing and publishing.These are some of the primary subgenres under the larger umbrella of professional writing that we will engage in the triangulated theory, practice, and pedagogy of this course.This course will introduce and engage participants in two braided strands:
- the theories and practices of doing professional writing and
- the theories and practices of teaching thoughtful approaches to professional writing
Seminar participants will learn about how the world of professional writing “works” (both historical and current) AND they will also learn how to teach professional writing courses to undergraduates. Upon completion of the course, participants will be ready to teach an undergraduate course in professional, technical, or business writing and they should also have some important skills that would make them viable candidates for positions in professional writing positions.
In-Class Activities and Engagements: We will complete many weekly small activities “in class” –either synchronously or asynchronously. Class members are expected to engage and complete all/most of these weekly small exercises/activities.
Teaching a Professional Writing Genre: In this collaborative assignment, class members will work in pairs/threes to review teaching materials and current research on the teaching of a specific professional writing genre. Class members will collaboratively design and deliver a teaching module on that genre, and develop a resource page that collocates resources for teaching that genre.
Doing a Professional Writing Genre: Again, in a collaborative assignment, class members will work in pairs/threes to review practical guides, relevant materials and current research on the actual doing of writing within a selected subgenre of professional writing.
ENGL 6700-001 (class# 14252) Seminar in Major Authors: JANE AUSTEN AND THE BRÖNTES:(Marsden): Distance Learning. This course is designed to offer an indepth study of some of the most important novelists of the ninetheenth century: Jane Austen and the Brönte sisters. The bulk of the reading will consist of the major novels (Austen’s entire published corpus, Charlotte Brönte’s major novels, one of Anne Brönte’s works, and Emily Brönte’s only novel), supplemented by selected scholarly work and historical context. As all four writers explored issues specifically related to female experience, particular attention will be paid to issues related to the status of women in the nineteenth century. Likely readings: Austen:
Love and Friendship, Lady Susan, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, Sanditon
Anne Brönte: Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Charlotte Brönte: Jane Eyre, Shirley, Villette
Emily Brönte: Wuthering Heights
Requirements: Two presentations, one examining the critical history of a novel by either Austen or one of the Bröntes. and the other exploring a culturally or socially relevant topic (e.g., inheritance law, employment opportunities for women, etc.).
A short paper based on one of the presentations (student’s choice)
Weekly response papers (no response is due on the day a student gives a presentation)
Final research project. As a fourteen-week semester is insufficient for students to complete the research and writing necessary for such a project, the assignment will consist of an overview of the topic and the argument of the project, an explanation of its significance, and a description of primary and secondary works that the student would consult if they had time/resources. The goal of this assignment is to give students the opportunity to pursue a complex subject and create a blueprint for a publishable piece that they can return to after the class is over.
6750-002 (class# 10451) SEMINAR IN LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE: THE TEMPORALITY OF TEXTS:(Tonry): Media studies and book history have recently been dominated by questions about material texts – about how we grapple with the word as a held thing, how meaning is shaped through the designed arrangement of a text on a page or screen, how we apprehend digitized representations of archived objects, how we access texts stored within hardrives and power-hungry data centers, and even how we negotiate the ontological nature of ‘things’ and ‘objects’ themselves. Yet a growing critique of the field notes that these questions tend to foreclose more sustained engagement with categories of race, class, and gender, or the dynamics of power and oppression. The study of the material text can leave a lot on the margins.
This course takes up an emergent stream of media scholarship on temporality represented by the work of Sarah Sharma, who has noted that media forms are generative of temporalities “experienced as a form of social difference (margins) and a type of privilege (centers).” Temporality in this sense is not merely history, or a transcendent sense of time, but rather the lived experience produced by power relations and media technologies, a “specific experience of time that is structured in specific political and economic contexts.” In short, a focus on temporality reminds us of the initial Marxian formulations around time/technology/labor, and insists that media forms produce a lived experience that is also always a power relation. At the center of the course is this: What can an attention to temporality open up in our archives?
This course is theory-heavy but also accessible, and will be framed as a way to situate or refine the research interests of students. We will begin with premodern British texts as an experimental testing ground that is also the period of my own expertise, but the course will (eagerly) include work from the fields of those who enroll, including Americanists and Rhetoric and Composition/Writing Studies students.
We will briefly begin with the “Myth and Symbol school” of the 1950s and 1960s then shift our attention to the 1980s, when American Studies was transformed by ethnic studies and cultural studies. However, we will devote most of our time to discussing contemporary directions in the field as established by its major texts published over the last 20 years. These take as their starting point the “transnational turn” of the late 1990s, wherein the discipline increasingly called into question the sanctity of borders and the ideology of empire. We will also devote special attention to how American Studies has provided frames for understanding cultural memory and memorialization, a persistent theme in the field. Readings will consist mainly of scholarly monographs. We will read monographs by Lisa Lowe, Christina Klein, Judith Halberstam, Jodi Melamed, Rod Ferguson, David Harvey, and others.