Click on a title for a description box to show, or view listing of all courses for the Fall 2019/Spring 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, March 25.
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.
For the course’s research component, each student will identify and explore one significant landscape site (e.g., the Oxbow of the Connecticut River; Lebanon Shaker Village; a surviving textile mill complex) that can be explicated via literary/artistic texts/works. The fundamental challenge is to learn how to perform interdisciplinary cultural analysis of a related group of artifacts. During the semester, each student will make a pair of presentations on the chosen site and its associated cultural records/analogs and the relevant theoretical perspectives. A seminar paper of 20-25 pages will be the main basis for evaluation.
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.
Spring 2019 Seminars
• Critical Disability studies and theory;
• The new(er) field of “narrative medicine”;
• Trauma (as it intersects with the experience of disability, disease, illness) and its literary representations, particularly in non-fiction forms;
• Literature and human rights.This course will engage narrative and documentary that is not necessarily limited to (but definitely still including) the U.S. (as well as the “the Western hemisphere”). The texts of this course will, in sum, be global. Course texts will include:
(1) NARRATIVE (memoir, personal essay, letters, blogposts, graphic fiction/non-fiction, interviews, and Op-Ed series like the New York Times “disability” series now with over 50 entries: https://www.nytimes.com/column/disability);
(2) DOCUMENTARY FILMS (of many varying lengths); and
(3) CRITICAL/THEORETICAL (secondary) texts that might help frame the narratives and documentaries. The intent here is not to freeze-frame certain texts with certain theories or ways of reading but to offer a persistently toggled and braided account of possible primary texts with critical approaches and secondary texts.Interdependence and collaboration marks and makes the landscape of disability, disease, illness.
As such, for course activities and assignments, participants would be asked to:Compose approximately 5 brief (250-300 word) responses (could done as a blog, etc.)
–OR a 10-15 page conference paper presentation
–OR a 5-10 min. documentary/video production or podcast
–OR other multimodal and multimedia forms are invited
–Choices will depend on what each student most wants to gain from the class experience in relation to their own professional plans.
Carry out one collaborative class leadership session
Complete one collaborative piece of writing with classmates
Final Highlights Reel of work in the course (5-8 mins)For further information about likely texts and course activities, please contact: email@example.com
Faulkner and Morrison are also related to each other in ways that seem almost intimate. Morrison has made provocative yet ambiguous comments about Faulkner, her fellow Nobel laureate (and the subject, along with Virginia Woolf, of her Cornell MA thesis). For instance: “He could infuriate you in such wonderful ways. It wasn’t just complete delight–there was also that other quality that is just as important as devotion: outrage. The point is that with Faulkner one was never indifferent.” (And few words are more characteristically Faulknerian than “outrage.”) She describes Faulkner as “the only writer who took black people seriously”–but then goes on to add, “which is not to say he was, or was not, a bigot.” But curiously, in Playing in the Dark, Morrison’s often-cited study of canonical white American writers’ response to what she calls the “Africanist presence,” she mentions Faulkner only in passing. In addition, Morrison insists her work is “not like Faulkner,” and she’s right: for one thing, she is every bit as original. So if the relationship between Morrison and Faulkner cannot be reduced to one-way influence, how might we conceptualize it? (Notably, the monographs and articles looking at Faulkner and Morrison in tandem are almost uniformly disappointing.) This course also invites reflection on the implications of old canons and new. Has Morrison’s cultural capital impacted Faulkner’s?
Reading list: Morrison: Beloved, Song of Solomon, Jazz, Paradise, Home and selections from Playing in the Dark
Faulkner: Go Down, Moses, The Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom!, Light in August, Sanctuary
Assignments: one short conference length paper, one long paper, two class sessions of “co-teaching,” in which student signs up to help lead discussion on the day’s reading, in final session of class, annotated bibliography and presentation to class of final paper-in-progress.
ENGL 6800-01 (class#16430)/AMST 6000 (class #14054) /HIST 6000(class# 17325) AMERICAN STUDIES: METHODS AND MAJOR TEXTS: (Vials): This course serves as a survey and overview of American Studies as a discipline and a methodology, which we will approach through major texts in the field, past and present. We will explore what it means to examine culture through this particular interdisciplinary lens. First institutionalized in the 1950s and 1960s, American Studies was initially organized around the question, “what is an American?” and often sought to answer this question by tracing the ways in which American writers imagined “the Frontier” as myth and symbol. It has since expanded its scope to the study of the United States in a global context, examining the ways in which the nation has been transformed – and how it has shaped other nations and territories – through the transnational flow of cultures, peoples, and institutional power across its boundaries. As our readings will illustrate, contemporary American Studies has drawn insights not just from a range of disciplines, but from a range of other interdisciplines as well, including empire studies, postcolonial studies, comparative ethnic studies, gender and sexuality studies, Marxism, indigenous studies, and cultural studies.
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.
Course requirements will include an oral presentation, a review essay, and one seminar paper (15-22 pages).
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