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.

Fall 2023/Spring 2024 Seminars

Fall 2023

5100-01 Theory and Teaching of Writing


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


5182-01 Practicum in the Teaching of Writing


6270-01 Contemporary Anglophone Poetries


6325-01 Literatures of Environmental & Racial Justice, 1500-1800


6400-01 No Country for Black People: Black Revolution and Racial Dystopias in US Literature


6750-01 Disability Studies in the Humanities


6750-02 Once and Future: Adaptation, Mediation, and Popular Culture


Spring 2024

ENGL 5160–01 Professional Development


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


ENGL 6450–01 The Contemporary US Bildungsroman in Context


ENGL 6500–01 Theory of Irony


ENGL 6530–01 African Life Writing


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


ENGL 6550–01 Researching and Teaching Second Language Reading and Writing


ENGL 6600–01 Hybrid Narratives


ENGL 6800–01 American Studies: Methods and Major Texts


Fall 2023 Calendar

Fall 2023 Calendar

9:30 – 12:00 ENGL 5150-01


Advanced Research Methods

ENGL 5182-01


Practicum in the Teaching of Writing


ENGL 6325-01


Literatures of Environmental and Racial Justice, 1500–1800

1:00 – 3:30 ENGL 5100-01


Theory and Teaching of Writing

ENGL 6400-01


No Country for Black People: Black Revolution and Racial Dystopias in US Literature

ENGL 6750-02


Once and Future: Adaptation, Mediation, and Popular Culture

5:00 – 7:30   ENGL 6750-01


Doing Disability Studies in the Humanities

ENGL 6270-01


Contemporary Anglophone Poetries


Course Descriptions

Fall 2023 Courses

ENGL 5100-01: Theory and Teaching of Writing

(Blansett): [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 5150-01: Advanced Research Methods: What Graduate Study Can Do

(Smith): 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 six 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): [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 Directors 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 workshop weekly classroom activity plans and write several reflections on teaching. An annotated portfolio of the materials and activities generated during the semester takes shape as you contribute to the weekly work in the Practicum.

ENGL 6270-01: Seminar in Modern Poetry; Contemporary Anglophone Poetries

(Pelizzon): In this course, we’ll plunge into a sea of fabulous recent poetries from the US, the UK, and Canada. How do contemporary poets address subjects including romantic and familial love, race, gender, economic class, disability, environmental risk, and national identity? What range of verse possibilities—from traditional meter and rhyme to experimental hybrid forms—are poets using to engage 21st-century experience? We’ll do a lot of close listening, reading aloud and discussing how these poems are working as poems at the sonic level as well as on the lyrical and narrative planes. How do sound texture, wordplay, and white space communicate? Our class will be a welcoming space for those who enjoy poetry but may noy yet be confident in talking about how contemporary poetry thinks and feels via its myriad forms.

Likely authors on our reading list include Franny Choi, Natalie Diaz, Ilya Kaminsky, Douglas Kearney, Maureen McLane, Ange Mlinko, Paul Muldoon, Alice Notley, Alice Oswald, Danez Smith, Karen Solie, and A.E. Stallings. Participants should expect to take turns leading the discussion each week. Class writing will include weekly responses to the reading and a public-facing project such as a book review or blog post. Participants will also create and present on a final project tailored to their interests. Options might include a scholarly research paper/proto-article on some aspect of contemporary poetry, a pedagogical portfolio including a syllabus and projects for an undergraduate poetry course, a lyric essay connecting your work to that of one or more of the poets we’re reading, or a digital project engaged with contemporary poetics.

ENGL 6325-01: Seminar in Renaissance Literature; Literatures of Environmental and Racial Justice, 1500–1800,

(Sarkar): This course is designed to (a) introduce graduate students to questions about the environment in pre-1800 British literature (b) enable them to inquire how imaginative writing about “nature” and ecology intersected with discourses on race, slavery, and colonialism (c) expose them to key theoretical and conceptual issues in the trans-historical scholarly fields of ecocriticism, premodern critical race studies, and postcolonial theory.

How might imaginative writing bring into conversation discourses of environmental, racial, and social justice? This seminar approaches this question by turning to pre-1800 British literature that both reflects and shapes ideas about the environment—and that reveals how ideas of ecology are inextricable from understandings of racial and cultural difference. Our governing questions will include: how do writers envision the relation of humans to their nonhuman environments? How does evolving knowledge about the natural world intersect with ethical, social, and political issues? How were discourses about natural disaster, weather, and climate mobilized to create hierarchies among different groups of people?

We will attempt to answer these questions by examining the ways in which discourses about one’s responsibility to the environment circulated in literary-historical periods that had no explicit theorization or definition of concepts like “environmentalism,” “racial justice,” or “environmental justice.” Our primary readings, drawn from 16th- to 18th-century literature, will range across a variety of genres (including drama, epic, lyric poetry, essays, utopian writing, early realist fiction) and our broader methodological concerns will necessarily traverse literary-historical periods. By drawing on works of literary scholars, ecocritics, postcolonial and decolonial theorists, and scholars on race and slavery, we will thereby examine the implications and value of pre-1800 paradigms for modern problems.

Requirements will include: one oral presentation and annotated bibliography; a 5-6 paper; and a final project chosen from one of the three options: (a) research paper (b) public-facing essay (c) pedagogical project.

ENGL 6400–01: American Ethnic Literature No Country for Black People: Black Revolution and Racial Dystopias in US Literature

(Pierrot): In Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson infamously suggested that free African Americans should be sent out of the union to “be colonized to such place as the circumstances of the time should render most proper”: deportation was the only way to eschew what he saw as the unavoidable outcome of racial cohabitation in the aftermath of slavery: “the extermination of one or the other race.”
Jefferson’s was but one of the many visions of a racially homogenized America developed by thinkers, writers, activists and politicians throughout the early modern era and to this day. Separate and at times antagonistic attempts at removing African Americans from the United States resonate with many strands of popular culture: throughout the antebellum era, debates over emigration, resettlement and nation-making were central to African American politics. If followers of Marcus Garvey in the early 20th century saw a “return” to Africa as the solution, many also felt that African Americans were owed a territory within the United States which they might have to take by force.
Extermination, exodus, nation-making: studying fictions by Sutton Griggs, George Schuyler, Ray Bradbury, John A. Williams, Melvin Kelley, Sam Greenlee and others in the light of the political discourse of their time, this course proposes to follow how authors approached the topic of Black revolution and Black nation-making in US literature from the 19th to the 21st century, from anticipation to Afrofuturism.

ENGL 6750-01: Seminar in Language and Literature; Doing Disability Studies in the Humanities

(Brueggemann): An interdisciplinary mapping and excavation of disability studies in the humanities, engaging a triangulated focus in 3 primary areas:
• literature (and film) studies, including children’s/YA literature;
• writing studies (including creative non-fiction/memoir along with the teaching of writing); and
• identity studies in literature and writing, and its crossings with disability identity & experience (both American & global)
Additional fields and areas in the humanities will also be engaged and intersected with these primary 3, depending on the interests of seminar participants. These “additions” would not just be chunked-in but interwoven with the material from the 3 primary areas. Such interweaving would come from who the seminar participants are and their own areas of interest, study, possibilities. Some of those likely interweavings might be: anthropology, digital humanities, history, human rights, medical humanities, political science, philosophy, WGSS, etc.
The course would traverse both primary (literary) texts and secondary critical work, “classic” literature alongside lesser-known texts, engage a variety of literary genres, explore numerous identity overlaps with disability, and work through a handful of methodologies primarily used in “doing disability studies in the humanities.”

Tentative reading/screening list of potential texts:
Key background/resource texts:
o Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. Eds. Snyder, Brueggemann, Garland-Thomson (MLA, 2002; reissued, 2022)
o Disability Theory. Tobin Siebers (U Michigan P, 2008)
o Keywords for Disability Studies. Eds. Adams, Reiss, Serlin. (NYU Press, 2015)
o Disability, Key Issues & Future Directions: Arts & Humanities. Brueggemann. (Sage, 2012)

Literature, potential texts under consideration:
o Shakespeare, Richard III
o Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
o Selections from Emily Dickinson’s poetry
o Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic
o Selections from Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability
o Eli Clare, Brilliant Imperfection: Grappling with Cure
o William & Ellen Craft, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom
o Octavia Butler, Kindred
o Riva Lehrer, Golem Girl: A Memoir
o Jean-Dominique Bauby, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
o Judy & Paul Karasik, The Ride Together: A Brother and Sister’s Memoir of Autism in the Family
o Selections from About Us: The Disability Experience (New York Times series)
Children’s/YA Literature:
o Selections from Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens
o Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
o Cece Bell, El Deafo
o Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden
o Brian Selznick, Wonderstruck
o Ann Clare LeZotte, Show Me A Sign

Films possible:
o The Hunchback of Notre Dame (many versions)
o CODA (Sian Heder; 3 Oscar nominations, 2021)
o Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution (Michelle & Barack Obama, Exec. Producers; 2020 Oscar nominee, documentary)
o Breathing Lessons: The Life and Work of Mark O’Brien (Jessica Yu; 1997 Oscar for short documentary)
o Music by Prudence (Roger Ross Williams; 2009 Oscar for short documentary)
o Le Scaphandre et le Papillon (The Diving Bell & the Butterfly) (Julian Schnabel, 4 Oscar nominations, 2007)

Critical excerpts, secondary texts will also be made available from at least the following:
o Tobin Siebers, Disability Aesthetics
o Robert McRuer, Crip Theory: Cultural Signs of Queerness and Disability
Rebecca Sanchez, Deafening Modernism: Embodied Language and Visual Poetics in American Literature

ENGL 6750–02: Seminar in Language and Literature; Once and Future: Adaptation, Mediation, and Popular Culture

(Somerset): This course will serve as an introduction to theories of adaptation, of media, and of popular culture, centered on the example of the Arthurian legend. (Three current grads have specifically requested an Arthur course, hence the focus, but students may choose another focus and final project topic if they wish). Stories of Arthur and his court have been extraordinarily generative in a wide variety of media and cultural forms, including children’s and young adult literature, graphic novels, internet comics, video and tabletop games, LARP, Ren Faire narratives, film, TV, and more. This recent proliferation builds on centuries of reworking the Arthur legend in a wide variety of literary and historical genres, across Europe and beyond: each retelling foregrounds different elements, or adds new episodes, as its author repurposes the narrative to make claims about nation and identity past and future, or to develop or interrogate norms for gendered behaviour, personal virtue, and communal obligation. After reading a small selection of Arthur stories that have been highly influential on recent adaptations and some core theoretical works in the early weeks, each student will choose a recent adaptation as their project focus, and we will select further readings (e.g. on gaming, gender theory, mass culture, fanfiction, book history, media studies, film, etc.) with their developing projects in mind. Student projects might follow one of three tracks: a pedagogy track, where they focus on teaching through adaptation and produce teaching materials; a public humanities track, where they focus on the creation of digital materials; or a criticism and theory track, where they produce a conference-length paper then revise it into a longer research paper.


Core readings: theory

Robert Stam, “Beyond Fidelity: The Dialogics of Adaptation” and “Revisionist Adaptation”

Linda Hutcheon and Siobhan O’Flynn, A Theory of Adaptation

Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin, Remediation: Understanding New Media

Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media.

Julie Sanders, Adaptation and Appropriation

Kamilla Elliot, Theorizing Adaptation


Core readings: Arthurian narratives (all in modern translation) (optional for students who develop another focus)

Geoffrey of Monmouth: History of the Kings of Britain (1-55111-639-1) Broadview

Armitage: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (0-393-33415-5) Norton

Armitage: The Death of King Arthur: A New Verse Translation (0-393-34353-7) Norton

Malory: Le Morte Darthur (0-19-953734-8) Oxford

  1. H. White, The Once and Future King (Putnam, 1958: available on Kindle)