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.

Spring 2024/Fall 2024 Seminars

Spring 2024

ENGL 5160–01 Professional Development


ENGL 6400–01 Racism, Colonialism, and the Big House/Plantation Novel


ENGL 6450–01 The Contemporary US Bildungsroman in Context


ENGL 6500–01 Theory of Irony


ENGL 6540–01 Antislavery Literature and Human Rights in the Atlantic World, 1760–1870


ENGL 6600–01 Hybrid Narratives


ENGL 6800–01 American Studies: Methods and Major Texts


Fall 2024

ENGL 5100-01/02 Theory and Teaching of Writing

Blansett and Doran

ENGL 5182-01/02/03 Practicum in the Teaching of Writing


ENGL 5350–01 Bloomsbury and Resistance


ENGL 5630–01 Introduction to Environmental Humanities


ENGL 6320–01 Shakespeare and His Contemporaries


ENGL 6450–01 From Pre-Human to Post-Human Metaphors of Childhood


ENGL 6600–01 Reader as Proselytizer


ENGL 6850/6400–01 Multi-Ethnic Graphic Narrative and the Idea of History


Spring 2024 Calendar

Spring 2024 Calendar

9:30 – 12:00 ENGL 6600-01


Hybrid Narratives


ENGL 6500-01


Theory of Irony

ENGL 6540-01


Antislavery Literature and Human Rights in the Atlantic World

1:00 – 3:30 ENGL 5160-01


Professional Development

ENGL 6450-01


The Contemporary US Bildungsroman in Context

ENGL 6400-01


Race, Colonialism, and the Big House/Plantation Novel

5:30 – 8:00   ENGL/AMST 6800-01


Introduction to American Studies

Fall 2024 Calendar

Fall 2024 Calendar

9:30 – 12:00 ENGL


Narrative and
the Idea of

ENGL 5182-01/02/03


Practicum in
the Teaching of

See times listed in course description.




ENGL 6320-01


Shakespeare and


ENGL 6600


Reader as

1:00 – 3:30 ENGL 5100-01/02

Blansett and

Theory and
Teaching of

ENGL 6450-01


From Pre-
Human to Post-
Metaphors of

ENGL 5630-01


Introduction to

4:00 – 6:30   ENGL 5350



Course Descriptions

Spring 2024 Courses

ENGL 5160-01: Professional Development

(King'oo): [3 credits] Prerequisite: Open to graduate students in English and Medieval Studies, others with consent. Includes critical reflection on the academy, as well as practical instruction in writing application
materials for conferences, grants, and academic employment, and in revising a seminar paper for publication.

ENGL 6400-01: American Ethnic Literature; Race, Colonialism, and the Big House/Plantation Novel

(Burke): The paradigm-shifting thesis that the seventeenth-century reconquest of Ireland served as a model for the colonization of the “New World” explicates how the plantation complex associated with the antebellum South was first created by Tudor domination in Ireland. In Clukey’s formulation, Irish “landed estates and big houses” equate to “plantations; landlords replace planters; and the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy supplants the North American plantocracy,” and the difference in Irish and American terminology for similar phenomena obscures commonalities. “Big House” is an Irish usage for the manor houses of the Anglo-Protestant elite and is also the name of the Irish literary genre centered on such dwellings. The Irish model of settler-colonialism exported to the New World also spawned a range of social institutions and cultural artifacts. As such, the Southern plantation novel and Ireland’s Big House narrative emerge as related genres. The seminar’s core will be three plantation novels that depict – in different registers – Southern planters of Irish association: Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! (both 1936), and The Foxes of Harrow (1946), a bestselling novel by Frank Yerby, an African American author of Irish ancestry. In all three, male protagonists transform initial subjugation by uncritically replicating in America the very socio-political “Old World” structures that they or theirs have fled. Bowen and Edgeworth, authors of seminal Big House novels, were themselves of settler-colonial origin. In self-consciously postcolonial, late modernist, Gothic, or contemporary iterations by Poe, Randall, Green, Faulkner, James, and Banville, the Big/Plantation House narrative is subverted, enervated, or relocated in order to grapple with or evade its problematic roots in the earlier romanticization of colonial and slave-holding cultures. The Southern US was only the northernmost outpost of a plantation system that encompassed Caribbean colonies. Thus, Haiti’s haunting of the action in Mitchell and Faulkner as well as the manner in which Walrond’s Caribbean Great House narrative speaks to allied genres in Ireland and America will be encompassed. 

ENGL 6450-01: Seminar in American Literature; The Contemporary US Bildungsroman in Context

(Knapp): 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 makes 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 and alongside various theoretical perspectives 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 

Brandon Hobson, Where the Dead Sit Talking 

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 

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 6500-01: Seminar in Literary Theory; Theory of Irony

(Mahoney): 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 (in translation), 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).

Organized (more-or-less) historically, the “critical” readings are likely to include selections from the following writers and texts:

Plato: Phaedrus, Republic (Book I), Symposium

Fichte: from Science of Knowledge

  1. W. and A. W. Schlegel: from Philosophical Fragments, “On Incomprehensibility”

Novalis: from Fichte Studies

Kleist: “On the Marionette Theater”

Coleridge: from Lectures on Shakespeare

Keats: selected letters

Baudelaire: “On the Essence of Laughter”

Kierkegaard: The Concept of Irony, “The Ancient Tragic Reflected in the Modern Tragic”

Nietzsche: from The Gay Science, “On Truth and Lies in a Non-Moral Sense”

Benjamin: The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism

Blanchot: from The Infinite Conversation, “Literature and the Right to Death”

Paulhan: from The Flowers of Tarbes


Criticism after 1960 (selective bibliography):

Szondi: “Friedrich Schlegel and Romantic Irony”

Starobinski: “Ironie et mélancholie” (1967)

Brooks: The Well-Wrought Urn (1947), “Irony as a Principle of Structure” (1971)

Booth: A Rhetoric of Irony (1974)

De Man: “Allegory and Irony in Baudelaire” (1967), “The Rhetoric of Temporality” (1969), “The Concept of Irony” (1977), “Aesthetic Formalization” (1984)

Derrida: “Plato’s Pharmacy” (1981), from Parages (1986)

Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy: The Literary Absolute (1978)

Rorty: Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity (1989)

Behler: Irony and the Discourse of Modernity (1990)

Lacoue-Labarthe: The Subject of Philosophy (1993)

Albert: “Understanding Irony” (1993)

Newmark: Irony on Occasion (2012)

Konstantinou: Cool Characters: Irony and American Fiction (2016)

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 … ?).

ENGL 6540-01: Seminar in Literature and Human Rights; Antislavery Literature, Empire, and Human Rights in the Atlantic World, 1760-1870

(Winter): This course provides an introduction to critical methods in law and literature studies and in the emerging field of literature and human rights, by studying the legal and political history of slavery and antislavery, including resistance by enslaved people, in the British Empire. We will study primary texts such as law reports, political tracts, and literary texts. In interrogating the history of liberalism, empire, and human rights, we will take our bearings from historian Caroline Elkins’s recent account of British practices of “legalized lawlessness,” including both justifications of imperialism as a “civilizing” project and the widespread use of force and even torture to suppress nationalist movements. Geographically, the course will focus primarily on Britain and the British West Indies but will also include a unit on Sojourner Truth’s 1828 legal suit to recover her unlawfully enslaved son, an 1836 American antislavery case of an enslaved child brought to Massachusetts, and a recently discovered text of nineteenth-century prison literature by a young African American inmate of the New York state prison, Austin Reed. Key to our studies will be the concepts of personhood and property as defined in the English common law. 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 white male ownership of land and chattels, with particular attention to laws governing real property (land) and inheritance; relations between masters and servants or apprentices, husbands and wives, parents and children, and colonial laws governing relations between masters and the people they enslaved. We will also study the founding of colonial plantations and corporations, as well as a series of famous eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century cases concerning the legal status of fugitive slaves in England, including the notorious 1783 case of the massacre on 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 over both political rights and “human rights,” including rebellions of enslaved people 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. Students interested in archival research methods would find instruction and opportunities in this course. It is also designed to provide students with historical and critical resources for antiracist and decolonial teaching and research. 

Likely readings: We will read several new historical studies on the evolution of colonial slave laws that consider abolitionism, spurred by Black radical activism, as an early human rights movement. We will also pay attention to the interaction of these questions with novelistic generic experimentation in satire, colonial romance, and realism. In addition to novels by authors including Edgeworth, Earle, and Wollstonecraft, we will read slave narratives by Olaudah Equiano and Mary Prince, and Austin Reed’s Life and Adventures of a Haunted Convict (1856). Other readings may include selections from eighteenth-and nineteenth-century antislavery poetry; eighteenth-century antislavery political tracts by Thomas Clarkson and Olaudah Equiano; an autobiography by a British-Jamaican nurse during the Crimean war, Mary Seacole; and historical and critical articles on slavery, resistance, and empire, including work by Ian Baucom, Vincent Brown, Colin Dayan, Yogita Goyal, C. L. R. James, Saidiya V. Hartman, Edward B. Rugemer, Hortense Spillers, Christopher Taylor, and Alexander G. Weheliye. Contemporary works responding to atrocities of slavery and the afterlife in Britain of British abolition will include the poetry cycle Zong! by Trinidadian/Canadian lawyer and poet/griot M. NourbeSe Philip and the recent novel The Fraud by Zadie Smith.

Students seeking pre-1800 credit, including Americanists and those in Francophone studies, may develop projects focused on literature by colonial-era or early US writers, or on the Haitian revolution. Research projects on early West Indian literature are also possible. The course has been approved for credit toward the Graduate Certificate in Human Rights.

Course Requirements include: a 20-25 page seminar paper or two shorter papers consisting of a critical analysis paper of approx. 10 pages and a research/conference style paper of 12-15 pages; a scholarly literature review paper or an annotated bibliography; 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 6600-01: Creative Writing Workshop; Hybrid Narratives

(Litman): In this seminar we will study and create hybrid narratives. Rather than dedicate ourselves to one genre, we are going to look at texts and projects that refuse to be confined to a single category. Our goal is to understand how these hybrid narratives work and to find inspiration for our own projects. Ideally, the assigned texts and projects will open up new possibilities for us, give us new ideas, and above all else, embolden us to experiment and take risks in our own work.

Over the first six weeks of the semester students will work on a series of exercises designed to (1) encourage them to play with genres (Experiment exercises) and (2) help them discover a larger narrative they might want to develop further (Building Block exercises). Students who already have a project in mind might choose to pursue it, or if not, they might let the exercises guide them and see what narratives/projects might emerge.

The reading list will include titles that combine poetry and visual arts (such as Intimate by Paisley Rekdal or Silent Anatomies by Monica Ong), or photography and prose (like True Stories by Sophie Calle); critical monographs in a form of graphic novel (such as Unflattening by Nick Sousanis); books the blur the line between criticism and fiction (such as Artful by Ali Smith), or criticism and memoir (such as The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson); and many other combinations.

ENGL 6800-01: American Studies: Methods and Major Texts

(Anson): This course provides a survey of the major texts, interdisciplinary methods, and critical questions of American Studies. American studies is an inquiry into structures of power, global economies of empire, shifting notions of territorial belonging and national identity, and the scope and force of cultural production. Beginning with the institutionalization of American Studies in the 1950s and 1960s, we will trace first how the “Myth and Symbol school” explored “what is an American?” through symbols like “the Frontier.” We will then follow the transformation of American Studies by ethnic studies and cultural studies in the 1980s through the “transnational turn” of the late 1990s, asking what role the emergence of climate science and the new field of ecocriticism played in pushing the field both across borders and against the economies and ideologies of empire. We will devote the second half of the term to contemporary directions in the field, learning how Indigenous studies, Black studies, Asian American studies, Latinx studies, gender and sexuality studies, postcolonial studies, Marxism, and geography have troubled the question “What is an American?” Throughout, we will pay special attention to the long-standing, and arguably field-defining, links between American Studies and the environmental humanities, attending to land/s as a vital and enduring analytic.   

*This course description adapted in part from Dr. Chris Vials 

Fall 2024 Courses

ENGL 5100-01/02: Theory and Teaching of Writing

(Blansett/Doran): [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 current methodologies used by composition researchers to undertake 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-focused research project, and a description of the course inquiry and assignment architecture.

ENGL 5182-01/02/03: Practicum in the Teaching of Writing

(Doran): Tuesdays 9:30 am – 10:45 am, 10:45 am – 12:00 pm, or 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm, depending on your schedule [1 Credit] The Practicum in the Teaching of Writing is designed for graduate students teaching First-Year Writing at the University of Connecticut for the first time. Teaching Practicum is designed to help you implement the theories of teaching and writing introduced in ENGL 5100, serving as a bridge between your learning and your students’ experiences. We will work weekly on developing active-learning strategies, class activity plans, and other instructional materials that you will use immediately in your classes. Practicum also provides a sustained forum for reflecting on and assessing your own teaching in the context of the program. It is a deliberate teaching community where instructors regularly share experiences and learn from one another.

ENGL 5350-01: Modern British Writers; Bloomsbury and Resistance

(Cramer): Our great stumbling-block is . . . our horror of half-measures. We can't be content with telling the truth—we must tell the whole truth; & the whole truth is the Devil.  (Lytton Strachey, letter to John Maynard Keynes, April 8, 1906)

In this course we study the Bloomsbury Group, a coterie of artists, intellectuals, and political theorists who transformed early twentieth century aesthetics, lifestyles, and sexual norms. Core members include Clive Bell (art critic), Vanessa Bell (painter), E. M. Forster (novelist), Roger Fry (art critic), Duncan Grant (painter), John Maynard Keynes (economist), Desmond MacCarthy (literary critic), Lytton Strachey (biographer), Leonard Woolf (political theorist), and the iconic feminist and modernist, Virginia Woolf.

This course is grounded in early twentieth century history and politics—especially the rise of modernism in the literary and visual arts. We study revolt by Bloomsbury, themselves descendants of Empire builders, as part of the liberation movements of their time: the Harlem and Irish Renaissances; the breakdown of the British empire; the global feminist, labor, and peace movements; the nascent men’s liberation movement; the rise of male and female homosexual subcultures. Contrary to caricatures of Bloomsbury as frivolous aesthetes, each in their own style engaged intimately with the political crises of their time. Side by side with Bloomsbury innovations in the visual and literary arts, we will consider Bloomsbury as political and social dissidents: e.g., their opposition to World War I (Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant as conscientious objectors); pacificism (Clive Bell and Virginia Woolf); anti-Imperialism (especially Leonard Woolf); their united front against fascism at home and abroad. Virginia Woolf’s feminist resistance to male dominance—even among her beloved male friends—is forefront, together with her astute assessments of the damaging effects of their elite educations on their hearts and minds.

Bloomsbury and their circles fostered havens for homosexual men and toleration for women loving women. E.M. Foster, Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant, and John Maynard Keynes were key figures in the developing homosexual subcultures of their generation. Virginia Woolf’s passionate love for Vita Sackville-West pervades her fiction beginning with Mrs. Dalloway. We will listen to how they and others of their generation conceived of same-sex emotion, found lovers and sympathetic friends during these fiercely homophobic times. We will also review contemporary scholar debates on how to talk about homosexuality among generations whose self-understanding and terminology may not coincide with our own.

A key question for this course revolves around the Bloomsbury liberatory aim to break from the past. How far can one break free from the worst of our inheritances? When is "revolution" merely superficial change, even revitalization of the core wrongs of the past? When “the current answers don’t do,” what criteria guides us toward “what to put in their place” (V. Woolf, D1 259)?

Reminiscing on their youth, Vanessa Bell (1879-1961) recalls, "How full of life those [early Bloomsbury] days seemed! Beauty was springing up under one’s feet. . . . A great new freedom seemed about to come" (“Bloomsbury” 111). Woolf recalls her beloved friends as “wild, odd, innocent, artless, eccentric and industrious beyond words” (L4 238). Connected by friendship more than ideology, Bloomsbury members nevertheless were united by a few core values that shaped their lives, work, and distinct contributions to modernism. Clive Bell (1881-1964), for example, writes "we did like each other; also, we shared a taste for discussion in pursuit of truth & a contempt for conventional ways of thinking & feeling" (“Bloomsbury” 119); Duncan Grant (1885-1978) recalls "Nothing was expected save complete frankness & a mutual respect for the point of view of each" (“Bloomsbury” 97). Can we align Bloomsbury frankness and contempt for dogma with what Carol Gilligan calls the “resistant voice” “speaking truth to power” (In a Human Voice 2023)? Can we accept Bloomsbury’s characteristic cultivation of reason and the “right sorts of feelings” as anti-fascist strategies of the sort advocated by Virginia Woolf (Three Guineas 1938) and Timothy Snyder (On Tyranny 2017) where “facts matter”?

If we are lucky, we may recapture glimpses of the brilliance, magic, and fun that Bloomsbury members enjoyed as "chosen family." Perhaps, in the spirit of Bloomsbury, we too can delight in lively discussion, the pursuit of "truth," mutual respect for each other's opinions, and readiness to question our own and each other’s familiar ways of thinking and feeling?


1) I look forward to introducing students to the welcoming and generous International Virginia Woolf community—the International Virginia Woolf Society (IVWS) and the Virginia Woolf Society of Great Britain (VWSGB): e.g., the Woolf list serve; publications (the Virginia Woolf Miscellany and Woolf Studies Annual); the Annual International Virginia Woolf conferences; special Woolf sessions at MLA; and the monthly online Woolf Salons. For advanced undergraduates, there is the possibility of the Angelica Garnett Essay Prize (

2). Carolyn Vega, archivist librarian from the New York Public Library, has agreed to speak to us online regarding the Berg collection of Bloomsbury papers. We will also have access to the Virginia Woolf Manuscripts from the Monks House papers at the University of Sussex at the UCONN Storrs library.

 Works Cited

Rosenbaum, S. P., editor. “Bloomsbury on Bloomsbury.” The Bloomsbury Group: A Collection of Memoirs and Commentary, University of Toronto Press, 1995.

Woolf, Virginia. The Diary of Virginia Woolf. 5 volumes, edited by Anne Oliver Bell. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1977-1984.

---. The Letters of Virginia Woolf. 6 volumes, edited by Nigel Nicolson and Joanne            Trautmann. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975-1980.


1) Apostle’s paper. The Cambridge Apostles was a secret intellectual society founded at Cambridge in 1820. Many of the men from Bloomsbury—John Maynard Keynes, E. M. Forster, Roger Fry, Lytton Strachey, Desmond MacCarthy, Leonard Woolf—were Apostles during the years when G. E. Moore predominated. This assignment is a fun way to share the Cambridge roots of Bloomsbury. The papers will follow Apostle format: short, playful, organized around a question, ending in a group vote on that or a related question. Topics—moral and philosophical in nature—are open, but we will stick to Apostle basics: that the speakers argue for what they truly (at least at that moment) believe. In keeping with Apostle traditions, I provide a hearth rug the speaker stands on, plus crackers with sardines (Apostles’ tradition) and a vegan alternative.

2) Class presentations, based on academic conference panel models. Students will turn in 250-word abstracts, followed by 15-minute paper presentations on panels of 2-3 presenters and a monitor. These presentations will be based on and preliminary to their final projects.

 3) Presentation and response to one selected essay by Woolf scholars. I will adjust a list of prominent scholar essays on Bloomsbury based on students’ research interests. Each student will present/respond to one of the scholar essays on the list.

4)  Final project (possibilities)

1)  Pedagogical project

2)  Scholar research paper / article

3)  Public facing / personal essay

ENGL 5630-01: Environmental Humanities; Introduction to Environmental Humanities

(Menrisky): This seminar provides an introduction—chiefly though not exclusively through the lens of literary studies—to the major histories, methodologies, theories, and contemporary preoccupations of the interdisciplinary environmental humanities, as well as to common practices in environmental humanities projects. During the first several weeks of the course, we will survey the intellectual antecedents and development of the environmental humanities—and ecocriticism specifically—as a broad field. Following that, we will explore recent inquiries and debates in the field. We will pay particular attention to how critics and other scholars approach such issues as environmental representation (including matters of scale and how we define “environment” to begin with), environmental history (including changing conventions amid shifts in ecological conditions, energy politics, and climate stability), the politics of nature (and its relationship with race, gender, sexuality, indigeneity, class, disability, and other social vectors), canonization and its disruption (e.g., what has qualified as environmental art, rhetoric, or policy for different writers and why), periodization (e.g., what we call our current epoch, whether Holocene, Anthropocene, or something else), and method (including but not limited to approaches and lenses such as historicism, affect studies, materialism, political theory, and scholar-activism). While we will read some short primary texts here and there, our chief attention will be on works of humanities scholarship concerning human interactions with environment. This seminar is, in this respect, not intended to provide coverage in a particular national literature or historical period (e.g., US literature of the twentieth century). It is intended for students with an interest in environmental matters across research interests and aims to provide tools for scholars working in a variety of periods, traditions, and fields to write critically about humans’ historical engagement with the worlds they inhabit, alter, represent, and live with.

Requirements include weekly responses, a presentation, a midterm project of the student's choice (e.g., a conference-length paper, short piece of public-facing scholarship, annotated syllabus, review essay, or portfolio of assignments), and a standard seminar paper.

ENGL 6320–01: Seminar in Shakespeare; Shakespeare and His Contemporaries

(Tribble): Shakespeare is often taught in isolation from the other playwrights of the period, but this practice distorts our sense of his place within the wider context of playing in early modern England. This class  will examine the theatre of the Elizabethan and Jacobean period, placing Shakespeare’s work alongside that of his contemporaries. We will examine the repertory both of Shakespeare’s companies and of his rivals and will study the ways that Shakespeare participates in larger thematic, commercial, and cultural trends in the early modern theatre.

I will organize the class around sets of ‘triplets’: three plays that are in dialogue with one another in some way, normally with a Shakespeare play as the middle term. We will spend two weeks on each triplet; I will ask you to read the first two plays for class one, and then review the second play and read the third for class two. For instance, one first ‘triplet’ begins with the relatively early Queen’s Men version of the history of King Henry V (Famous Victories),  then moves to Shakespeare’s version of the first part of that narrative (1 Henry IV) and concludes with another Shakespeare play, The Merry Wives of Windsor, in which Shakespeare rewrites his own character of Falstaff in a comic register. Most of the other triplets contain only one Shakespeare play. Thus the course will be recursively chronological, with the aim of helping us see the network of sources, influences, dramaturgy, theatrical conventions and innovations that characterize the early modern theatrical world.

      In addition to the plays themselves, we will explore methodological questions in the field, including performance-as-research, print culture and material texts, race and gender on the early modern stage, repertory studies, and authorship and attribution.

Readings may include:

Famous Victories of Henry V; Henry IV, Part 1; Merry Wives of Windsor

               Spanish Tragedy, Hamlet, Knight of the Burning Pestle

  Mucedorus, Romeo and Juliet; Tis Pity She's a Whore

  Galatea, Twelfth Night, Roaring Girl

  Battle of Alcazar, Othello, Duchess of Malfi

Doctor Faustus, The Tempest, The Alchemist


Renaissance Drama: An Anthology of Plays and Entertainments, 3rd Edition, ed, Arthur Kinney          

Complete Pelican Shakespeare, ed. Stephen Orgel

The Oxford Handbook of Early Modern Theatre, ed. Richard Dutton.


1) Pitch 20%

Each of you will pitch one play (not assigned to the class as a whole).  Your task is to convince your company (played by the rest of the class)  to acquire your assigned play, on the basis of the following criteria (note that the sub-questions are meant to be indicative only; you should shape your pitch to your materials).

Narrative/Plot: briefly, what happens? Is this a familiar story or something new?


Aesthetics, Language (Poetics); Structure

Cultural Ripples/ Why this play now? How does it subject matter fit with current concerns or rival material? Will there be any difficulties licensing it with the Master of the Revels?

Theatricality: What resources of stagecraft will be required?  Does it have ‘wow’ factor?

Suitability to company make-up: Are there showcase roles, especially for leading actors & clowns?

IN SHORT: Why acquire this play?

The pitch should be made orally and you should speak from notes rather than reading a script. The pitch should be annotated with footnotes citing sources, evidence, and any other supporting material. Including notes, aim for about 1000 words.

The objectives for this assignment are:

To expose the entire class to a wider range of plays than would be otherwise possible (and each of you will read one additional play in depth).

To  gain experience researching the scholarship and theatrical history of one play.

To practice speaking in a more informal and engaging register than a typical academic talk, which will give you experience with the skills needed for the ‘public humanities’

2) Mini-conference 20%

 The last day of class we will hold a mini-conference in which each of you will present your research in a 12-15-minute slot. You should not simply read sections from your research essay draft; rather, you should present a coherent, brief, and interesting finding from your research, along with evidence to support that finding. You may read from a script (although you should be able to lift the words off the page); you may also use Powerpoint or handouts if appropriate.

The objectives for this assignment are:

To gain experience presenting research, including how to choose aspects of your research that will be on interest to others.

To practice professional skills such as abstract writing, organising and  moderating panels, and asking and fielding questions

 Research Essay: 60%

 The research essay will allow you to explore a topic in depth, engaging in the scholarship in the field. I am open to a wide range of formats and topics, so long as the essay is research based.

ENGL 6450-01: Seminar in American Literature; From Pre-Human to Post-Human Metaphors of Childhood

(Duane): It’s a critical commonplace that children are deployed as symbols of something else. Beginning with the premise that metaphors are a reciprocal process in which abstraction shapes reality (and vice versa), this course will explore the theoretical, archival, and ethical problems posed by confronting the cultural work of childhood in history and literature. Beginning with 18th century sources, and moving to the present day, this course will discuss the ways in which children occupy an epistemological linchpin between the citizen and the outsider. In each case, we will examine both the meanings that are imposed on particular children, and how children have inhabited, resisted, and changed those meanings from within.

 Assignments will include an in-class conference presentation, and participation in a paper revision workshop that will contribute to the final requirement of a seminar paper.

ENGL 6600–01: Creative Writing Workshop; Reader As Proselytizer

(Dennigan): If I have a religion, it is literature, a category as endless and varied as the gods, and on its heels, literary criticism too is nearly as holy and varied. I'd like this course to be one that explores the possibilities of writing literary criticism. How much of your personal life can you purposefully bring to your interpretations? Conversely, how can you free yourself from your personal experience in your literary criticism? How can you practice being alert to a text in multiple ways? What are the possibilities for collaboration in literary criticism? Who in this world are you trying to convert to your ways of reading and seeing? This is not a course that will explicitly teach schools and theories, though you are welcome to work in those modes. We will continuously ask, What does or could it mean to read? What is getting read, and by whom? Because this is a writing course, we will write abundantly, through and amid, about, on, after-- all the prepositions!--books and poems and plays (and other media) from all points in literary history (the subject matters are up to you-- please bring your particular reading/viewing life to this course). Possible assignments: reviews, meditations, aesthetic interrogations, appreciations, epistles, and more. Readings will likely include criticism by Theodor Adorno, Fred Moten, Virginia Woolf, Parul Sehgal, Michiko Kakutani, Zadie Smith, Hilton Als, Dubravka Ugresic, and more, plus a few recent issues of the New York Review of Books.

ENGL 6850–01/ENGL 6400-01: American Studies Keywords; Multi-Ethnic Graphic Narrative and the Idea of History

(Cutter): This class is a detailed study of a specific topic in American cultural studies with an emphasis on developing skills in interdisciplinary research. Our object of study for the semester will be historical multi-ethnic graphic novels. Over the course of the semester, we will consider the ways in which graphic narratives presents a particularly unique approach to US history that questions dominant accounts of racial progress and mainstream characterizations of American exceptionalism. What does history mean in these texts? And how do they question and contemplate events that are part of or impinge on US history, such as the Holocaust, segregation, unofficial discrimination, gender of sexual violence, and systemic state violence? If history is, as Frank Harte affirms, written by those in power, how do graphic narratives as a genre question such power and contemplate the contradictions of U.S. personhood, selfhood, and nationhood? What is the value of approaching history through such a format—what flexibilities does it allow that traditional narratives might not? How might graphic narratives not only rewrite history but also encourage rethinking of it?

Readings (Primary): Art Spiegelman: Maus I &2 (1986-1992); Kyle Baker: Nat Turner (2008); John Lewis, March (Trilogy Slipcase Set) (2016); Howard Cruse, Stuck Rubber Baby (1995); 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); Lynda Barry, One Hundred Demons (2005); 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).

Readings (Secondary): Richard P. Horowitz, “American Studies: Approaches and Concepts”; Hendler and Burgett, Keywords in American Cultural Studies: Kirsten Silva Gruesz, “America” (pp. 21-25); Fred Moten, “Democracy” (73-76); Lauren Berlant, “Citizenship” (41-45); Alys Eve Weinbaum, “Nation” (pp. 174-180); Paul Lauter, “Reconfiguring Academic Disciplines: The Emergence of American Studies,” American Studies Vol. 40, No. 2 (1999): pp. 23-38; Margaret Bruchac, “Native Land Use and Settlements in the Northeast Woodlands”; Kevin Sweeney, “Epidemics and Social Disorder” and “English Colonization”; Nikole Hannah-Jones, “America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One.” 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 (20%); 3) Long paper or final project (55%): 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 the instructor’s consent.