Courses and Seminars


Below is a list of English graduate courses for current academic year. All students must receive permission from the instructor and/or the English Graduate Program in order to enroll.

2022 Classes

Fall 2022


5100-01 Theory and Teaching of Writing

Blansett

5150-01 Advanced Research Methods: What Graduate Study Can Do

Smith

5182-01 Practicum in the Teaching of Writing

Blansett

5650 Introduction to Digital Humanities

Igarashi

6200-01 Small Wonders: Childhood and Scholarly Inquiry

Smith

6320 Shakespeare on Screen

Semenza

6450-01 Seminar in American Literature

Knapp

6850 Keywords in American Studies: Nature

Menrisky

Spring 2022


5160-01 Professional Development

Somerset

5530-01 World Literature: Shipwrecked: Oceanic Trajectories of World Literature

Shringarpure

6400-01 American Ethnic Literature: Multi-Ethnic Graphic Narrative and the Idea of History

Cutter

6500-01 Seminar in Literary Theory: Theory of Allegory

Mahoney

6540-01 Seminar in Literature and Human Rights: Testimony

Coundouriotis

6550-01 Seminar in Rhetoric & Composition: Theories of Making and the Practices of Creativity

Blansett

6750-01 Seminar in Language and Literature: The Gothic Novel and Its British and Irish Contexts

Burke

6850-01 American Studies: Keywords: Disability Studies

Brueggemann

Spring 2022 Calendar

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
9:30 AM-12:00 PM ENGL 6540-01
Coundouriotis
Literature and Human Rights: Testimony
ENGL 5530-01
Shringarpure
Shipwrecked: Oceanic Trajectories of World Literature
ENGL 6400-01
Cutter
Multi-ethnic Graphic Narrative and the Idea of History
1:00 PM-3:30 PM ENGL 5160-01
Somerset
Professional Development
ENGL 6500-01
Mahoney
Theory of Allegory
ENGL 6750-01
Burke
British and Irish Gothic Novel and Its Contexts
4:00 PM-6:30 PM ENGL 6850-01
Brueggemann
Disability Studies
ENGL 6550-01
Blansett
Theories of Making and the Practices of Creativity
Fall 2022 Calendar

Fall 2022 Calendar

Time Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday
9:30 AM-12:00 PM ENGL 5650
Igarashi
ENGL 6320
Semenza
ENGL 5182-01
Blansett
9:30am - 10:45am
11:00am - 12:15am
ENGL 6200-01
Smith
1:00-3:30 PM ENGL 5150-01
Smith
ENGL 5100-01
Blansett
ENGL 6750-01
Williams
4:00-6:30 PM ENGL 6850
Menrisky
ENGL 6450-01
Knapp
7:00-9:30 PM
Projected 2022-2023 Seminars

Projected 2022–2023 Seminars

Fall 2022


5100 Theory of Teaching and Writing

Blansett/Gatten

5150 Advanced Research Methods

Smith

5182 Practicum in the Teaching of Writing

Blansett/Gatten

5650 Introduction to Digital Humanities

Igarashi

6200 Small Wonders: Childhood and Scholarly Inquiry

Smith

6320 Shakespeare on Screen

Semenza

6450 The Contemporary US Bildungsroman in Context

Knapp

6750 The Politics and Poetics of Passing

Williams

6850 American Studies Keywords: Nature

Menrisky

Spring 2023

 

5160 Professional Development

Somerset

5530 World Literature in English

Coundouriotis

6500 Lyric Theory

Mahoney

6500 African American Literary Theory

Salvant

6550 Writing the University

Deans

6600 Environmental Writing

Pelizzon

6700 Darwin, Hardy, and Woolf

Winter

6750 Medical Humanities

Cutter

 

Course Descriptions

Spring 2022 Courses

ENGL 5160-01: Professional Development

(Somerset, class #6933): Required for all MA/PhD and PhD students before the end of coursework.

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: 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 5530-01: World Literature, Shipwrecked: Oceanic Trajectories of World Literature

(Shringarpure): Fulfills the post-1800 req. and, with appropriate research and instructor consent, the pre-1800 req.

“World literature” is an academic field that serves to complicate literature’s long-standing relationship with nation, translation and circuits of global dissemination. At once a theory, a method and a particular set of texts, “world literature” gains impetus from decolonial and postcolonial histories, the Cold War and our rapidly transforming technological landscapes. This seminar will focus on literature’s “world-making” potential by honing in on the ways in which writers and artists invest in, upon and across aquatic trajectories. When poet Dionne Brand writes that “the sea was its own country, its own sovereignty” she is referring to the allconsuming nature of the sea, its life-giving and life-taking force. Water is our anchor and islands, coastlines, shores, banks, archipelagoes, peninsulas, ships and pirogues become the site of life-worlds while we remain cognizant of the death-worlds of slavery and the mass graves that lie at the bottom of the sea. We will examine theoretical, affective and cultural formations such as the Black Mediterranean, Black Atlantic and the Black Aquatic and will work within the shadow of the fact that today, perilous migrations across the seas evoke the Middle Passage and reproduce precarity for Black and Brown lives. Texts include novels, poetry, film, and theory. Students will make 3 presentations on a theoretical text and write a research paper of 20-25 pages.

 

Literature

  • Claire of the Sea Light, Edwidge Danticat
  • Dragonfly Sea, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
  • Belly of the Atlantic, Fatou Dioume
  • Homegoing, Yaa Gyasi 
  • A Door to the Map of No Return, Dionne Brand
  • Zong, NourbeSe Philip
  • Black Mamba Boy, Nadifa Mohamed
  • Derek Walcott, selections
  • Mahmoud Darwish, selections

 

Films

  • Atlantics, Mati Diop
  • La Pirogue, Moussa Toure
  • John Akomfrah (selections)
  • Aleel/Seashell, Abdulcadir Ahmed Said
  • Salt of this Sea, Annemarie Jacir

 

Theory (selections)

  • Paul Gilroy
  • Edouard Glissant
  • Saidiya Hartman Christina Sharpe
  • Rinaldo Walcott

ENGL 6400-01: American Ethnic Literature: Multi-Ethnic Graphic Narrative and the idea of History

(Cutter, class #9190): Fulfills the post-1800 requirement.

This class takes seriously the emergence of comics as a legitimate site of interdisciplinary inquiry and scholarly engagement. Indeed, since the publication of Scott McCloud’s ground-breaking Understanding Comics (1993), the study of sequential graphic narratives has developed exponentially. Moreover, as a Business Insider article published on August 26, 2014 makes clear, domestic sales of comics and graphic novels “have been rising for years, reaching $870 million last year, up from $265 million in 2000.” From mainstream superhero serials to book-length graphic novels, from Marvel to manga, comics as blended image/text genres traverses multiple disciplines and geographical or political spaces.

We will consider the ways in which graphic narrative presents a unique approach to U.S. history that questions dominant accounts of racial progress and mainstream characterizations of American exceptionalism. From Jim Crow segregation to the Holocaust, from the forced relocation of Native peoples to the Japanese American incarceration/internment, and from de jure discrimination to systemic state violence, graphic narratives have become a literary genre in which to contemplate the contradictions of U.S. personhood, selfhood, and nationhood. We also will consider the ways graphic novelists transform “personal” history into something that is political or historical. Although our main focus is North American narratives, we may also look at works that have been influential to the understanding of graphic narrative and history, such as Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (2000-2004), which as of 2018 had sold more than 2 million copies worldwide.

Readings will likely include the following works: Will Eisner, A Contract with God (1978) (Part One of The Contract with God Trilogy); Art Spiegelman: Maus I &2 (1986-1992); Ben Katchor, The Jew of New York (1998); Kyle Baker, Nat Turner (2008); John Lewis, March (Trilogy Slipcase Set) (2016); Lila Quintero Weaver, Darkroom: A Memoir in Black and White (2012); Howard Cruse, Stuck Rubber Baby (2001); Gene Luen Yang, The Shadow Hero (2014); GB Tran, Vietnamerica (2011); Mat Johnson, Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery (2009); Allison Bechdel, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic (2006); Cristy C. Road, Spit and Passion (2012); Lynda Barry, One Hundred Demons (2005); Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis (2000-2004); Iskwe and Erin Leslie, Will I See? (2016); Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection, Vol. 1, ed. Hope Nicholson (2021); and Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics (1993). Other secondary readings will be assigned throughout the semester.

 

Requirements: 1) You will have the opportunity to lead class discussion once and then write a short (5-6 page) paper (25%). 2) Husky CT postings or short written responses (10%) (open topic). 3) Long paper or final project (65%). You may write a traditional seminar paper or choose a creative project (your own graphic novel or illustrated fiction, for example), a pedagogical project (syllabus or lesson plans for teaching graphic narrative, for example), or a DH project (such as a website on alternative comics, for example). Other options are possible with instructor consent.

ENGL 6500-01: Seminar in Literary Theory: Theory of Allegory

(Mahoney, class #15440): Fulfills the theory req. and, with appropriate research and instructor consent, the pre-1800 req.

How to define allegory? And what to do with it – or despite it? Etymologically, the Greek allegoria (“other speaking”) can be taken as meaning either “saying something other than is meant” or “meaning something other than is said.” (How … ironic.) However construed, allegory insistently points to the unavoidable gap between “saying” and “meaning” – and thus draws our attention to its unmistakably figurative nature. The Roman rhetorician Quintilian understood allegory as “continued metaphor,” an elided definition which underscores the figural nature of allegory – and raises the question of whether we can understand it in isolation, or must necessarily do so comparatively, in relation to other rhetorical figures (such as metaphor, symbol, and irony). It can be an unsettling, potentially threatening figure. The Romantic critic William Hazlitt notoriously warned intimidated readers of Spenser’s Faerie Queene that “if they do not meddle with the allegory, the allegory will not meddle with them” (thereby deploying another rhetorical figure – chiasmus – to try and harness the disruptive nature of allegory). For Paul de Man, allegory could only be understood in relation both to the symbol and to irony. A contemporary theorist of allegory, Gordon Teskey, characterizes the phases of a reader’s response to allegory in terms of the tension between “hermeneutic anxiety,” “interpretive play,” and “the narcosis of repose in the truth” (if there can in fact be any rest from the play of signification and interpretation). Allegory is an unavoidable aspect of literary experience, one which benefits from being positioned in relation to both complementary and competing rhetorical figures (as well as constructs of pleasure and truth), and which permeates writing in the western tradition in every era and every mode.

This seminar proposes to examine the theory of allegory both rhetorically (not least in relation to related figures such as metaphor, symbol, irony, and prosopopoeia) and “literarily,” in relation to (and as performed in) a variety of western literary texts from Dante to the twenty-first century. While the explicit emphasis will be on the “theory” of allegory, it will also be a priority of the seminar to engage “primary” literary texts from a variety of western languages (in addition to English; all readings will be available in English). With its scrutiny of a rhetorical figure (or a trope or a mode – there is no one adequate term) that is legible and dynamic across centuries, this seminar may be of interest to students interested in materials as various as Medieval literatures, English Renaissance and Protestant allegory, British and German Romanticism, German and French poetry and criticism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the American novel. The intertwined objectives of the seminar will be to become better readers of literary / critical theory as well as of allegorical literature (or, literature “in an allegorical mode”).

Organized (more-or-less) historically, the reading will emphasize criticism of the last 100 years, and will likely include selections from the following writers and texts:

 

Pre 1960:

  • Quintilian, from Institutio Oratoria
  • Puttenham, from The Arte of English Poesy
  • Coleridge, from Lectures: On Literature, 1808-19; from Biographia Literaria; from The Statesman’s Manual
  • Hazlitt, from Lectures on the English Poets
  • Baudelaire, “Of the Essence of Laughter,” “The Painter of Modern Life”
  • Benjamin, from The Origin of the German Trauerspiel
  • Auerbach, from Scenes from the Drama of European Literature

 

After 1960:

  • Fletcher, from Allegory: Theory of a Symbolic Mode
  • Frye, from Anatomy of Criticism; “Allegory” (PEPP 2nd edn) § De Beauvoir, from The Second Sex
  • De Man, “The Rhetoric of Temporality”; from Allegories of Reading
  • Quilligan, from The Language of Allegory; “Allegory and Female Agency”
  • Greenblatt (ed), from Allegory and Representation
  • Jacobs, “Allegories of Reading Paul de Man”
  • Warner, from Monuments and Maidens: The Allegory of the Female Form
  • Kelley, from Reinventing Romantic Allegory
  • Halmi, from Genealogy of the Romantic Symbol
  • Dieke, from Allegory and Meaning
  • Machosky, “Trope and Truth”; (ed) from Thinking Allegory Otherwise
  • Teskey, “Allegory” (Spenser Encyclopedia); “Allegory” (PEPP 4th edn); from Spenserian Moments
  • Johnson, from The Vitality of Allegory
  • Jameson, from Allegory and Ideology

 

“Primary” texts TBD, depending on the interests of enrolled students, but likely to include selections from Augustine, Dante, Chaucer, Christine de Pisan, Edmund Spenser, Mary Wroth, John Milton, John Bunyan, William Blake, S. T. Coleridge, P. B. Shelley, M. W. Shelley, E. A. Poe, Herman Melville, Charles Baudelaire, Rainer Maria Rilke, Franz Kafka, and Philip Pullman.

 

Requirements: regular attendance and participation; weekly writing (app. 500 words); one seminar presentation; midterm conference paper (10pp); final seminar paper (7500 words) or DH project.

ENGL 6540-01: Seminar in Literature and Human Rights: Testimony

(Coundouriotis, class #8712): Fulfills the post-1800 requirement.

Testimony and witnessing are central to human rights discourse. Whether we consider the work of uncovering and reporting abuse (by international organizations, NGOs, journalists, etc.), the legal prosecution of abuses, or the individual and communal processes of recovery from trauma, human rights practice is centered on the activities of testimony and witnessing. It is no surprise that much of what has been labeled “human rights literature” draws from testimony for its rhetorical power. In this course we will examine a range of testimonial practices, textual (literary and not), oral, and visual. We will contrast testimony to witnessing and read the theoretical literature that examines this difference. Beginning with the paradigmatic case of testimony of the Holocaust, we will then broaden our range of reference to examine Latin American testimonio and the literature about two key events in Africa: the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission proceedings and the Rwanda genocide.

Assignments include an oral presentation, a formal response to fellow student’s presentation, and one of the following: a) a final exam similar to a PHD area exam, b) a 20-25 page research paper, or c) two papers, approximately 10 pages each, turned in at midterm and finals week.

ENGL 6550-01: Seminar in Rhetoric and Composition: Theories of Making and the Practices of Creativity

(Blansset, class #13126): Fulfills the theory requirement.

In this seminar, we will explore the concept of creativity through representations of and the practices attached to the concept across domains and disciplines. Creativity as a concept serves up origin stories for multiple cultures, but creation as world-making is situated deep in a past, beyond even history, a process wholly owned by non-human (pre-human) makers. What has happened to creativity between genesis and the Anthropocene? How has creativity been imagined as both process and presence, at once a sequence of actions but also an event? How can creativity be both conceived of as both innate and learned? How is creativity used as a moral measure, and yet adjudged a process that can lead to decadence? How does creativity become the irrational complement to reason and also the result of a well-reasoned process like design thinking, which is currently promoted as our only hope to recovering our happiness, reinvigorating world economies, and restoring our planet? We will pose many questions and seek many connections to create a new understanding of what we mean by creativity.

Readings will range from texts from Plato to Deleuze and Guattari. Course activities will include making in multiple modes, as well as planning and participating in a "research-creation" event.

Graduate students and advanced undergraduates across departments are invited to enroll.

ENGL 6750-01: Seminar in Language and Literature: The British and Irish Gothic Novel and Its Contexts

(Burke, class #9194): Fulfills the post-1800 req. and, with appropriate research and instructor consent, the pre-1800 req.

This seminar will broadly consider Irish, British, and American Gothic writing from the eighteenth- to the twenty-first century, with attention to the British and Irish particularities of the genre and to the novel and novella forms. Students will have the opportunity to utilize major theories and foci of interpretation, from queer theory, Marxism, feminism, gender, race, and psychoanalysis to postcolonial studies. Any call to “tradition” potentially elides questions of origin and naturalizes complex political, literary, and cultural relations between Ireland and Britain (Killeen). Nevertheless, it is difficult to create a literary history of the British Gothic without considering the impact of Anglo-Irish writers such as Maturin, Le Fanu, Stoker, Wilde, Yeats, and Bowen as well as a British writer born to an Irish father such as Brontë. Eagleton claims that politically tumultuous colonial Ireland did not possess the conditions required for realism, but are there other reasons why Ireland produced so many writers of Gothic? The question of the predominantly British readership of Irish Gothic its appetite for narratives of the counter-Enlightenment Celt (Anolik; Malchow) is pertinent. Writers used Gothic to probe issues specific to their own cultural and/or geographic “fringes” (Brontë) but we will resist notions of coherence. The colonial relationship between Ireland and Britain means that the course will be less of a literary history and more of an anti-tradition of discontinuities, fracture, gaps, silences and fragments (McCormack; Watt). One of the few coherent connections between most Irish Gothic writers is their origins in or links to the colonial order or “Anglo-Irish” cohort. Foster reads this “siegementality” Protestant Irish class as preoccupied with its own impending extermination (Bowen). As hybrid, conflicted figures, the Anglo-Irish were well positioned to nurture a literature that emphasizes “hesitancy over certainty, and which refuses to dissolve binaries such as living/dead, inside/outside, friend/enemy, desire/disgust” (Killeen). Thus, there is a specifically colonial context to Irish Gothic’s use of the broader British tradition’s deployment of the Catholic archaic as site of terror (Walpole; Lewis) and its emphasis on the return of the dispossessed Other. Nevertheless, the prevailing theorization of Anglo-Irish Gothic does not account for the other colonizer-settler cohort in Ireland, the Ulster-Scots, nor for the cultural productions of or about their descendants in America (the Scots-Irish) by important names in American Gothic such as Poe, James, and Faulkner. Thus, we will set earlier themes and texts into relief and broaden our lens on race and colonialism by pivoting to the Americas and the authors just listed, closing with a recent Gothic metafiction centered on a rapacious Anglo-Irish settler-colonial family in midcentury Mexico (Moreno-Garcia).

 

SOME of the literary texts to be assigned

Walpole, Horace. The Castle of Otranto

Poe, Edgar Allen. “William Wilson”

Brontë, Emily. Wuthering Heights

Le Fanu, J. Sheridan. Carmilla (novella)

Wilde, Oscar. The Picture of Dorian Gray (novella)  Stoker, Bram. Dracula

James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw (novella)

du Maurier, Daphne. Rebecca

Yeats, Purgatory

Bowen, Elizabeth. “The Demon Lover”  Faulkner, William. Absalom, Absalom!

Welty, Eudora. “The Bride of the Innisfallen”

Moreno-Garcia, Silvia. Mexican Gothic

ENGL/AMST 6850: Disability Studies

(Brueggemann, class #15759): Fulfills the theory and post-1800 requirements

This is a course about “doing disability studies” in the arts and humanities. In order to maintain some focus we will center our reading and work on AMERICAN texts (literature, film, popular culture artifacts) and the important (and sometimes also obscured) contexts, history, cultural, political, and rights movements that have shaped and grounded the field of Disability Studies. The course is intended to be interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary –as currently aligns with the burgeoning field of Disability Studies itself –and although our focus will be “American” we will make many transnational and global connections. (For example: exploring the

United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, UNCRPD, alongside the Americans with Disabilities Act, ADA –and their impacts on cultural, political, and literary production by people with disabilities.)

 

The course will have four (interwoven) movements (we might call them “units” in a conventional sense). First:

we will begin in a space of “key words” and “core concepts,” exploring groundbreaking and foundationbuilding critical vocabulary and analytical frames. The normate, normalcy, narrative prosthesis, complex embodiment, staring (gazing), passing, crip time, betweenity, métis, overcoming/coming over –these are just a sample of the grounding vocabulary. Second: we will draw upon the rights-based, advocacy, activist frames and materialities (social, political, educational, medical) that have shaped American disability studies and have also then inspired much of its creative production. Third: we will insert disability into identity politics (and identity politics into disability) as we consider disability in complex relationships to other identities and how, once again, that complexity has forged creative and critical production for the field. Fourth: we will need to engage the issues inherent in accessing the archives around disabled lives –particularly in an American context—and how disability diagnosis and embodiment challenges and invigorates historical excavation and archival work.

 

Our own reading/approaches to these movements and their materials will be methodologically complex: rhetorical analysis; narrative and literary analyses (of many kinds); historical and archival work; human rights policy analysis, etc.

 

Course Elements and Activities:

  • Weekly participation in interactive class activities
  • Annotations and index for 2-3 Disability Keywords entries
  • Five short compositions (multimodal –but accessible—compositions are encouraged) in response to any 4 or 5 weeks of texts/discussions. Preliminary prompts offered by instructor.
  • Articulation of a final project (determined upon consultation with instructor): a project comprising 1520 hours of intellectual labor (need not be finished)

 

Texts (in whole or part):

  • Rachel Adams et al., Keywords for Disability Studies. NYU Press. As a resource book (not required). UConn Libraries has an e-copy.
  • Cece Bell. El Deafo. Amulet Books, 2014. (YA/Children’s Lit)
  • Brenda Brueggemann et al. Disability in the Arts and Humanities. Sage, 2012.
  • Susan Burch. Committed: Remembering Native Kinship in and beyond Institutions. North Carolina UP, 2021.
  • Susan Burch, ed. Encyclopedia of American Disability History (3 vols). Facts on File. 2009.
  • Peter Catapano and Rosemarie Garland-Thomson, eds. About Us: Essays from the Disability Series of the New York Time Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2021.
  • William and Ellen Craft. Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom. U Georgia P, 1999.
  • Lennard J. Davis, The Disability Studies Reader. 5th Ed. Routledge, 2016.
  • Disability Studies Quarterly (DSQ). Including the archives back to 1982 in the Ohio State University Knowledge Bank. Special attention to new/emerging special issues on Disability and Indigeneity and Disability and COVID-19 (in 4 languages). Open access, online.
  • Jay Dolmage. Academic Ableism. U. Michigan Press, 2017.
  • Tamar Heller et al. Disability in American Life. Tamar Heller et al. ABC-CLIO, 2018.
  • Judy and Paul Karasik. The Ride Together. A Brother and Sister’s Memoir of Autism in the Family. Simon & Schuster, 2004.
  • Riva Lehrer. Golem Girl: A Memoir. Penguin Random House, 2020.
  • Kim Nielsen. A Disability History of the United States. Beacon, 2013.
  • Kim Nielsen. Money, Marriage, Madness: The Life of Anna B. Ott. U. Illinois P, 2020.
  • Brian Selznick. Wonderstruck. Scholastic Books, 2008. (YA/Children’s Lit) Tobin Siebers. Disability Theory. U. Michigan P, 2009.
  • Dalton Trumbo. Johnny Got His Gun. 1938.

 

Possible films:

  • Alice Elliott, The Collector of Bedford Street. (Oscar-nominated film, 2014)
  • James Gandolfini, Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq. 2007
  • David Mitchell & Sharon Snyder, Vital Signs: When Crip Culture Talks Back (documentary film, available on youtube.) Original from 1995.
  • Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution. Michelle & Barack Obama, Exec. Producers. (Oscar-nominated film, 2020)
  • Rubin & Shapiro, Murderball. (Oscar-nominated film, 2005)
  • Jessica Yu, Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’ Brien (Oscar short documentary winner, 1994)

Fall 2022 Courses

ENGL 5100-01: Theory and Teaching of Writing

(Blansett, class #6490): [3 credits] Scholarship in the fields of writing studies, composition, and rhetoric often raises questions about how texts are made and the roles we play in teaching others to create texts. In response, compositionists have formulated a variety of theories for the assumptions, methods, and practices we rely on in the classroom. In ENGL 5100, we will engage with the theories, histories, research, and practices that inform our own First-Year Writing Program at UConn. Specifically, we will explore theories related to our writing program's approach to reading and writing, cognition and creativity, teaching and learning, language and meaning-making. We will build a greater understanding of the contexts that shape and are affected by our practices of teaching writing.

In addition to being introduced to the theoretical approaches to writing and teaching writing, you will also be introduced to some basic methodologies used by composition researchers that you will assess and use in a research project on teaching, learning, and writing (Scholarship of Teaching & Learning [SoTL]). Your classroom-based research will culminate in a project that contributes to our understanding of how undergraduate students learn to write and compose You will share what you have learned in the classroom in a brief teaching-presentation. The research will also provide the groundwork upon which you develop a course inquiry and assignment architecture in preparation for teaching your own version of UConn's FYW course. Work includes weekly written engagements with assigned readings, a teaching-presentation (10 minutes), and a description of the course inquiry and assignment architecture.

ENGL 5150-01: Advanced Research Methods: What Graduate Study Can Do

(Smith, class #7563): This one-credit seminar provides incoming graduate students a structured opportunity to get to know the faculty and resources at UConn, both within and outside the English Department, and to begin engaging with the many ways graduate study in English can make meaning in scholarly, pedagogical, and other professional contexts. Students develop a set of learning goals and writing tasks at the start of the semester and, with those goals in mind, self-select and attend ten meetings or events. Those events may include (but are not limited to) talks and presentations, undergraduate courses, panel discussions, professionalization workshops, and informational interviews. We will meet frequently (although not every week) to discuss with one another and with guests your progress toward those goals alongside readings in professionalization, graduate study and academia, and other topics based on participants’ interests. The seminar is required for entering MA and MA/PhD students and open to PhD students with instructor permission.

ENGL 5182-01: Practicum in the Teaching of Writing

(Blansett, class #6551): [1 Credit] Guided development of teaching in the University of Connecticut First-Year Writing Program. As part of a Practicum, new graduate student instructors who are teaching FYW at UConn meet with the Director to implement the theories of teaching and writing introduced in ENGL 5100, which includes developing active-learning teaching strategies, instructional materials, and classroom activities that help their students meet program goals and learning objectives. Enrolled instructors provide weekly reflections on teaching and assemble an annotated portfolio of the materials and activities generated during the semester.

ENGL 5650-01: Introduction to Digital Humanities

(Igarashi, class #13212): This seminar is an introduction to the digital humanities, “DH” for short. The seminar approaches DH as a broad category of inquiry that reflexively examines how knowledge is produced in the humanities in the digital age. Many of our topics emerge from literary study, but one of our recurring endeavors is to see how other disciplines do things so that we can begin to recognize what is and isn't specific to scholarly practices in literary study and the humanities; another motif will be how our notions of data, evidence, and knowledge might be evolving. Seminar assignments include introductory exercises in a programming language, shorter written assignments, a presentation, and a final project. This course counts toward the Digital Humanities and Media Studies graduate certificate. There are no prerequisites.

ENGL 6200-01: Small Wonders: Childhood and Scholarly Inquiry

(Smith, class #13213): Childhood studies might focus on small humans, but its reach is wide — across geographies, chronologies, and methodologies. This seminar invites participants to consider how their work might be enriched or complicated by a consideration of childhood as an area of inquiry. What does American, British, or world literature look like from the playground, the classroom, the abecedary, or the nursery? How do the critical conversations in queer theory, disability studies, ecocriticism, or gender and sexuality studies shift when we use age, and in particular youth, as a central term? While my expertise in literary studies will feature in the seminar, we also will explore together, and try on, methods that have been adopted by scholars in other fields. What does it look like when a philosopher does childhood studies? Or an art historian? Or a sociologist? What models are available to scholars across fields who are interested in pursuing research or teaching that addresses questions of childhood, and what projects might scholars new to these questions pursue? The reading list on our syllabus will be nearly entirely secondary. We will study theorizations of childhood (real and imagined) and children’s literature through shared texts. However, students will provide primary texts through their own research. Once the semester is underway, we will spend a portion of each seminar meeting engaging with those primary texts by brainstorming and workshopping individual projects. Students will develop projects in response to a flexible slate of assignments that allows them to pursue work that is meaningful to their intellectual and professional goals, whether that be traditional scholarly writing (such as conference and seminar papers), pedagogy-related material (such as syllabi), deep archival work, or public-facing writing.

Note that UConn is an ideal site for such exploration. Here, students enjoy the expertise of faculty in childhood studies in English, Education, HDFS, and other departments; rich archives both on campus (the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection and the Maurice Sendak Papers¬¬) and nearby (at the American Antiquarian Society, Pierpont Morgan, Beinecke, and Schomburg Center, among many other sites), and frequent events and programming in children’s literature and culture.

ENGL 6320-01: Shakespeare on Screen

(Semenza, class #13214): The course will combine the study of adaptation as a distinctive but widespread cultural phenomenon and of Shakespeare—the most-frequently-adapted author in the English language—as he appears on screens of various sorts, including in films, television shows, video games, YouTube videos, and so forth.

The course will be organized into three general sections: Introducing Shakespeare on Screen and Adaptation, Understanding Shakespeare on Screen, and Writing About Shakespeare on Screen—all of which are designed to help students navigate this increasingly complex subfield.  Part One introduces what counts as Shakespeare on screen (with a heavy focus on theories of adaptation, appropriation, and intertextuality); Part Two provides practical knowledge about both the mechanics of producing Shakespearean screen texts and those texts’ formal features, empowering students to pursue more in-depth explorations of primarily visual texts; the final Part presents students with different models for writing critically and imaginatively about screen Shakespeare.

Some works we’ll be studying: a range of Macbeth film adaptations, including Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (1957) and Joel Coen’s The Tragedy of Macbeth (2021); the recent HBO limited series Station Eleven (2021); video game projects such as the failed launch of the MacArthur Foundation-sponsored Arden in 2007 (and of course some games that actually were released, such as Elsinore [2019]); and several forms of online and small-screen Shakespeareana.

This course fulfills the Theory distribution requirement.

ENGL 6450-01: Seminar in American Literature

(Knapp, class #13215): The Contemporary U.S. Bildungsroman in Context

According to Bakhtin, the bildungsroman emerged from the revolutions that rocked Europe in the second half of the eighteenth century, inducing the sense that the “very foundations of the world” were changing, “and man must change along with them.” It fell to the protagonist of the bildungsroman to chart a course not only for himself—because of course he was male—but also for his reader to move safely from the old world into what Bakhtin calls the “historical future.” Thus, it might be more accurate to say that the genre has always been less interested in history than in moving it along. The bildungsroman; the novel of development; the coming-of-age story. Whatever we call it, its focus on a youthful individual who faces obstacles but still manages to navigate the tide of progress, making it particularly well-suited for instantiating the imperatives of American exceptionalism. Scholars such as Joseph Slaughter and Long Le-Khac, for instance, have noted that in the post-Civil Rights era, the multicultural bildungsroman has served the prerogatives of a neoliberal politics well by promoting individual mobility and development while simultaneously obscuring structural inequalities.  We will read recent U.S. bildungsromans in the context of the genre’s literary and cultural history in order to understand its shifting role and the stakes involved in negotiating the difficult terrain of the current moment, shaped as it has been by events such as the 9/11 attacks, the Forever Wars (and their messy ends), cataclysmic weather events brought on by climate change, a worldwide financial meltdown, a global pandemic, nationwide protests over racial injustice, and a democracy toying with fascism.

Because of its focus on literary history and and the imperatives of genre, this course will be of interest to Americanists across all time periods, and indeed might appeal to scholars of British and World literature who can opt to take a comparative approach in their writing. There will be an interim assignment and a final project that will consider one of the primary texts on the syllabus in historical and/or cultural context. These assignments will vary depending on the students’ interest according to three tracks: pedagogical, scholarly, or public-facing. (For instance, possible interim assignments might be a syllabus and course rationale; a conference paper; or a review essay targeted for a venue such as LitHub, respectively). Final projects should be the equivalent of an 18-20-page seminar paper, but again can take different forms, whether a longform public-facing essay, a fully produced podcast, or a teaching portfolio including syllabi, rationale, and assignments.

Possible Primary Texts:

Garth Greenwell, What Belongs to You

Kiese Laymon, Long Division

Raven Leilani, Luster

Ben Lerner, Leaving the Atocha Station.

Ling Ma, Severance.

Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven.

Lydia Millet, A Children’s Bible

Tommy Orange, There There 

Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds

Christine Smallwood, Life of the Mind 

Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones 

Laura Van den Berg, Find Me 

Ocean Vuoung, On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous

ENGL 6750-01: The Politics and Poetics of Passing

(Williams, class #8563): In her novel Passing, Nella Larsen observes that "passing," traditionally defined as the act of claiming an identity that was neither assigned at birth nor ordained by convention, is a "hazardous business," since it often requires leaving family, tradition, and in some cases, even oneself, behind. In this course, we will unpack the depth of Larsen's claim and complicate the notion of "passing" by examining racial, gendered, sexual, and other forms of identity shifting in a variety of fictional and non-fictional narratives that span the genres of novel, film, and memoir essay.
Some theorists of passing believe that it is a phantom idea, since the concept of passing relies on both an essentialist identity politics that may reduce a subject to their perceived ethnicity, gender, or nationality, and an outmoded belief in a coherent self. Yet other critics working within the fields of critical race studies and gender and sexuality studies define passing as an opportunity to reimagine the social locations of one’s identity, constituting a kind of “code-switching” that also amounts to a “misapplication” of the socio-political and already established criteria for various cultural identities.
Taking for granted that passing is a contested term subject to political adjudication and philosophic interpretation and that passing literature is a dynamic product transformed by the eras, histories, and cultural beliefs that shape it, we will explore some key examples of passing literature and discourse from the modernist era of the Harlem Renaissance to the contemporary, postmodern moment in order to theorize the elements, interpretations, and implications of identity passing.

Texts and figures to be studied will likely include Nella Larsen’s Passing, James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Danzy Senna’s Caucasia, Mat Johnson’s Loving Day, Helen Oyeyemi’s Boy, Snow, Bird, Brit Bennett’s The Vanishing Half, and the lives and public interpretations of Pauli Murray, Anatole Broyard and Rachel Dolezal. We will also engage some texts that fall outside the parameters of African American literature and (strictly) racial passing by exploring other cultural representations of identity transformation such as Gish Jen’s Mona in the Promised Land, Akwaeke Emezi’s Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir, Kenji Yoshino’s Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights, and Jennifer Finney Boylan’s She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders.

Our methodological practice will be drawn from interdisciplinary literary study consisting of critical race studies, gender studies, queer studies, philosophy, genre studies, and multicultural American studies. Requirements will include 1 shorter paper, 1 oral, researched presentation, and a longer seminar paper of 12-15 pages.

ENGL 6850-01: Keywords in American Studies: Nature

(Menrisky, class #9596): The critic Raymond Williams once wrote that “Nature is perhaps the most complex word in the [English] language,” despite the fact that it is often presented as self-explanatory: something real rather than artificial, purely biophysical rather than cultural, a nonhuman sphere existing separately from the human “over there” instead of “right here.” But as Williams also suggests, “What is often being argued in the idea of nature is the idea of man; and this not only generally . . . but the idea of man in society.” This seminar will rigorously examine the shifting meanings of nature over the past two centuries, with specific attention to the fact that, despite the idea’s historical contingency and social construction, modern arguments pitting nature against culture are almost always about social identity as much as (or even more than) biology and environment, especially along vectors such as race, gender, sexuality, and disability. Drawing on a collection of historical documents as well as current work in queer and feminist theory, critical race and Indigenous studies, and the environmental humanities, we will trace the concept of nature from the colonial era to the present (chiefly but not exclusively in the United States) in terms of how it has linked the human with the nonhuman rather than separated them, sometimes generatively and sometimes violently, and often in competing ways. Alongside these historical, theoretical, and critical texts, we will examine literary mobilizations of nature in works that grapple with rather than uncritically endorse the concept, dramatize the many sorts of identity work it performs or is made to perform, and clarify the extent to which it continues to organize social hierarchies in the present as well as the past.

Likely assessments:

  • Two oral presentations, one on weekly readings and the other focused

on teaching

  • Weekly informal reading responses in which students place seminar

texts and their own research areas into conversation

  • Short literature review essay on either a peer-reviewed article in the student’s research area or two public-facing articles that analyzes the article(s)’s rhetorical features and elaborates on connections to course

Themes

  • Final paper (two options): (1) seminar paper, 20–25 pages; or (2) two public-facing articles that “translate” course content for a general audience