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Department of English Language and Literature

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Graduate Course Descriptions - Fall 2019


ENGL 566    ALFRED HITCHCOCK:  Gender, Sexuality and Representation   Greven   MW 3:55-5:10pm   Gambrell 129

This course examines several key works of Alfred Hitchcock, one of the most important directors in film history, paying close attention to the recurring motifs and concerns in his body of work. Hitchcock’s career began in England, where he made the first English sound film (Blackmail) and several of the most important works of the 1930s. Lured to America by David O. Selznick, Hitchcock went on to make an astonishing number of films still pored over and debated by scholars. This course examines Hitchcock’s cinematic art, focusing on the intersection between his complex aesthetics and his controversial representation of gender roles and sexuality. Of particular interest will be Hitchcock’s development of suspense techniques from the equally influential sources of Soviet montage and German Expressionism; his recurring interest in the figure of the embattled woman; his representation of queer sexuality; his use of the film star (Cary Grant, James Stewart, Ingrid Bergman, and Grace Kelly especially); and the development of Hitchcock’s reputation as his critical reception, shaped by the intervention of the auteur critics in France and the United States, transformed the view of Hitchcock as primarily an entertainer to that of a serious artist.

ENGL 600     Seminar in Verse Composition   Amadon   T 2:50-5:20pm   HUMCB 308

In this course, students will write and revise new poems. Our goal in workshop discussions will be to discuss each poem in terms of the poet’s particular aesthetic, while also encouraging each other to push our work in new directions. Toward that aim, students will write some poems in traditional verse forms and some poems that result from constraint-based and experimental prompts, and we will read and discuss essays and books of contemporary poetry from poets with a variety of aesthetic leanings. The final portion of the semester will be devoted to workshopping portfolios, and our discussion will turn to larger issues in each poet’s work. Prerequisites: admission to the MFA program in poetry, or admission to another graduate English program with permission of the instructor.

ENGL 602     Fiction Workshop: Short Story   Bajo   T 6:00 – 8:30pm   HUMCB 308

English 602 is for graduate students accepted into the MFA Creative Writing program. It is an intensive workshop in the art and craft of the literary short story and the novel chapter. Writers will spend the majority of their time composing original stories or chapters and analyzing the fiction submitted by other workshop members. Our discussion will focus on each writer’s aesthetic decisions and the elements of fiction, including language and motif as well as plot, character, and temporal structure. We will also consider some recently published fiction and give some general consideration to the story form—its definitions, limits, variations, and possible futures. Interspersed will be discussions concerning professionalization. Prerequisites: admission to the MFA program in fiction.

ENGL 691      Teaching of Lit. in College   Levine   MW 3:55-5:10pm   GAMBRL 302

Introduction to the methods of teaching literature, with emphasis on current pedagogical practice and theory and applications of electronic media. *This course meets during the first seven weeks of term and provides supervision of graduate students teaching ENGL 101.

ENGL 700     Introduction to Graduate Study of English   Gulick   TR 11:40am-12:55pm   HUMCB 308

This course is designed for graduate students in their first year (or even beyond!) who want a formal opportunity to think through three distinct types of key questions about graduate studies in English.  The first set of questions is personal: What am I doing in an English graduate program? How can I best set myself up to get what I came for? How do I need to adjust the rhythms and assumptions that worked for me as an undergraduate in order to be successful at the graduate level? The second set is practical and intellectual: What skills and genres of writing do I need to get comfortable with in order to do my coursework, develop mastery in a field, and prepare to do scholarly research? What does “professionalization” mean for a humanities graduate student, and how can I do that? The third set of questions is contextual: What is this world of higher education in which I’ve chosen to immerse myself beyond the BA? What scholarly trends and institutional pressures shape the kind of work that comes out of an English department in the twenty-first century? How can I approach my graduate program in a way that makes me feel less like a cog in the wheel of higher education and more like an agent for (positive) change?

We’ll develop answers to these questions through reflective and critical writing assignments (including journal entries, a conference paper abstract, and a book review); readings in the history of higher education, the humanities and the English Department; discussions and group work designed to foster the kind of collegiality and intellectual generosity that makes graduate study a pleasure; and visits from a fabulous line-up of faculty guest speakers. We’ll punctuate all of these very heady activities with discussions of treatments of higher education in popular and literary culture, including academic fiction by Zadie Smith and Julia Schumacher, and episodes of Dan Harmon’s “Community.”

ENGL 706     Special Topics in 16th & 17th Century British Lit. & Culture   Shifflett   M 11:10am-1:40pm  HUMCB 308

Debt, Forgiveness, Etc.
Are you concerned about debt? Worried about how you should reciprocate kindnesses and gifts? Wondering whether reciprocating them is always a good idea? Desperate to be forgiven for things you have done? Annoyed when others forgive you for things that, in your judgment, do not need to be forgiven? Surprised that kings (and presidents) can pardon criminals simply because they want to? Do you take pride in forgiving others? Do you worry that by forgiving them you are demonstrating a lack of self-respect? And are you willing to read and discuss works of literature that deal with such things? If “yes” to any of these questions, then consider taking this course. The primary list is likely to include (among other works) Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and Timon of Athens, selected poems by Donne and Herbert, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Dryden’s Conquest of Granada, and selections from ancient and early modern treatises on giving, owing, and forgiving in private and political contexts. Scholarly readings are likely to include (among others) selections from Derrida’s On Cosmopolitanism and Forgiveness, Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years, Konstan’s Before Forgiveness, and Pettigrove’s Forgiveness and Love.

ENGL 721      Special Topics in 19th Century Am. Lit. & Culture   Shields   TR 4:25-5:40pm   HUMCB 312

American Literature 1784-1900 – Other Archives and Banished Discourses
One legacy of American modernism was the radical restriction of literature to belles lettres, with a premium placed on experimental expression.  A broad swath of writings that had been deemed “letters” during the nineteenth century were excluded from consideration as meaningful and creative writing.  This course is designed to research the excluded discourses of 19th century American writing, exploring archives and locating texts and authors, and expanding our sense of the labor of canonical authors in literary realms not usually identified as their venues of communication.  Werner Sollers two decades ago pushed American literary scholarship to explore American literatures not in English.  But there remain, in English, vast under-examined bodies of writing that require attention.

In terms of brute volume and numbers of published authors in the United States several discourses eclipsed belles lettres during the period in question: newspaper reportage, agricultural writing (called rural letters from 1819-1888), Christian writings, political writings, and movement discourses (abolitionism, temperance, phrenology, hydropathy, physical culture, anti-masonry, anti-dueling, etc.).  Additionally there were culturally influential genres of fashion writing, humor, travel writing, scientific reportage and speculation, philosophical and moral argumentation, sports writing, crime reportage, and advertising.  There were, as well, underground discourses—the bachelor flash press, radical sedition, and pornography.  Each student will chose one of these discourses as the frame of exploration, but the courses readings (entirely devoted to primary sources), will map the features of each of the above literary regions of pre-modernist American letters.

Each of these discourse is a public literature.  Feminist and African-American initiatives in scholarship have brought to light significant features of personal literature—familiar letters, journals, memoirs, family histories and oral testimonies.  We will not this semester be looking particularly at life writings or personal literatures.

ENGL 733     Classics of Western Lit. Theory   Beecroft   M 4:40-7:25pm   HUMCB 104

Cross-listed with CPLT 701
Our readings this semester will fall into three groups: a collection of texts from Ancient Greece and Rome, a collection from other pre-modern cultures of Eurasia (China, Japan, the Arabic/Persian world, South Asia), and a collection of texts from Medieval, Early Modern and Modern Europe, up to about the early nineteenth century. Most of these texts are in dialogue with each other (the Greco-Roman with the Arabic and with the later European texts in particular, but also the Chinese and Japanese texts with each other). Other texts are not in dialogue. We will use these texts to think through how literature was understood and interpreted prior to the emergence of literary studies as a discrete academic discipline in the nineteenth century. The study of these texts will help us to understand the nature of the texts that we call “literary,” as well as to understand the relationships between theories of literature and literature as practice. We will also consider how these texts retain relevance today, not only for the study of literature contemporary with them, but also for the way we understand literature now.

ENGL 764     Special Topics in Theory & Critical Methods  Lee  T 6:00-8:30pm   HUMCB 312 

Theorizing Difference/Theorizing Desire
Do we desire that which is different from us, or the same? Why are we taught to celebrate and embrace "difference," but most often in terms closer to sheer tolerance rather than attraction? Can difference—or sameness—be characterized as an ethical imperative? Politically, is difference a goal or an obstacle? How and where do we encounter the "other" in ways that change who we are? This course will probably not answer these questions tidily but will definitely bring them up over and over again, refining them through closely reading critical theory that spans psychoanalysis, queer theory, second/third-wave feminist thought, Black Studies, Asian American Studies, and postcolonial/anticolonial thought. Thinkers we may encounter together include Leo Bersani, Judith Butler, Anne Cheng, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Lewis Gordon, Julia Kristeva, Toril Moi, Tavia Nyong’o, Edward Said, Eve Sedgwick, Denise Ferreira da Silva, Kathryn Bond Stockton, and Cornel West.

ENGL 747     Special Topics in Global Anglophone Lit. & Culture   Jelly-Schapiro TR 1:15-2:30pm   HUMCB 308

This course will examine how contemporary literature and theory registers and critiques global forces and histories. We will read works that strive to apprehend the world at large, as well as works that illuminate the ways in which global culture is produced and experienced in local places. Our inquiry will focus on the literary and theoretical mediation of several interrelated phenomena: imperialism, capitalism, climate change, and the conjoined problems of history and memory. We will devote especial attention to the question of how contemporary literature and theory reckons with the longer history of the interlocking crises—economic, political, cultural, and environmental—that define our current global predicament.

ENGL 790     Survey of Composition Studies   Rule   M 5:30-8:00pm   HUMCB 312

Landmarks and Histories
ENGL 790 surveys the history and development of composition studies, perspectives which help us build contexts for understanding the present landscapes of research, theories, principles, and practices in the field. To do this work, we'll examine formative landmark moments in composition history (like Braddock, Lloyd-Jones, and Scoher's 1963 Research in Written Composition; the 1975 publication of SRTOL; the Elbow/Bartholomae debates, etc.) alongside several, and sometimes competing, historical accounts of the field (Connors; Harris; Crowley, etc.). Students can expect to do weekly writing on assigned readings, develop an annotated bibliography and book review of a recently published book of interest in the field, and take a final essay exam.

ENGL 793     Rhetorical Theory and Practice: Medieval to Modern   Ercolini   R 6:00-8:30pm   HUMCB 308

*Previous description
In the history of rhetoric, the “excluded middle,” so to speak, between ancient and contemporary rhetorical theory has become the site of recent scholarly revisitation and rediscovery.  Works, practices, and figures in this span serve as critical nodes through which we can examine, complexify, and multiply relations between elements often presently considered distinct: rhetoric, literature, poetry, philosophy, history, and criticism.  We will explore several definitions, pedagogies, practices, orientations, and developments in the history of rhetoric via a selection of important figures: St. Augustine, Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius, Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Christine de Pizan, Desiderius Erasmus, Baldessare Castiglione, Petrus Ramus, Thomas Wilson, Francis Bacon, Madeline de Scudéry, Giambattista Vico, Henry Home Lord Kames, George Campbell, Hugh Blair, Immanuel Kant, and Gilbert Austin.  These thinkers’ writings provide compelling, influential, and productive perspectives on topics pertinent to rhetoric, composition, and communication, such as speech, writing, style, argumentation, eloquence, comportment, and enlightenment.  Likewise, these writings mobilize ancient rhetorics in diverse ways to respond to contemporaneous exigencies, just as scholars of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have and continue to revisit thinkers from these periods to expand the repertoire of resources for current concerns.  We will focus on primary texts (in standard translation, where applicable), excerpts, and secondary scholarship from eminent historians and theorists of rhetoric and the periods in question.  

ENGL 803     Special Topics: Seminar in Literary & Cultural Studies   Clementi   M 5:30-8:00pm   HUMCB 308

A klug zu Columbus! Jewish Identity in Literature and Film
“If God wanted us to fly, He would have given us tickets” (Mel Brooks). Cracked at least a smile? You just pre-qualified for this course. 

Through literary and cinematic classics, this course explores the formation and evolution of Jewish identity in European and American culture—types and stereotypes, themes and antitheses, praxes and subversions—and the socio-historical context of these artistic productions.Through the examination of how the “ethnic story” and “ethnic identity” are progressively constructed and, by entering mainstream culture, in turn end up (re)shaping national/majority identity, students will gain a new understanding of “ethnicity” as a very dynamic notion. One that also entails struggle, conflict and resistance to the dominant culture’s oppressive forces as well as to the pull and oppression of one’s own culture of origin. We will seek answers to questions such as: Which aspects of Jewish identity were brought over and which were left behind in the passage to America? How do immigrants experience immigration, assimilation, cultural transformation and what role do gender, race and class play? How is the “identity of the fathers” experienced by the first-generation all-American children? Why, as it is often remarked, were Jews disproportionately numerous among the Civil Rights Movement supporters in the 1960s and are disproportionately numerous today among green activists? When did American humor become so Jewish? Assimilation, Holocaust trauma, “self-hatred,” misogyny (within America and Judaism), homophobia (within America and Judaism), but also environmentalism, internationalism, social activism, are some of the topics addressed by our study and examined through novels, film, television, music, comics and other genres and media.

ENGL 846     Studies in Southern Literature   Brinkmeyer   T 2:50-5:20pm   GAMBRL 108 

Trilogies: Place and Modernization
This course will explore how trilogies—either deliberately constructed by authors or later designated by critics—explore the construction of communities and the subsequent transformations these communities face under pressures of time and modernization.  We will probably read four trilogies, chosen from this group:  William Faulkner, The Snopes Trilogy (The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion); Larry McMurtry, The Thalia Trilogy (Horseman, Pass By, Leaving Cheyenne, The Last Picture Show); Cormac McCarthy, The Border Trilogy (All the Pretty Horses, The Crossing, Cities of the Plain); Jeff VanderMeer, Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance); Peter Matthiessen, The Shadow Country Trilogy (Killing Mr. Watson, Lost Man’s River, Bone); and Richard Ford, The Frank Bascombe Trilogy (The Sportswriter, Independence Day, The Lay of the Land).  Students thinking about taking the course who are interested in a particular trilogy should contact me about my final selections.  Requirements:  participation and in-class reports; weekly reading journal; final paper.

ENGL 890     Studies in Rhetoric & Composition   Muckelbauer   W 5:30-8:00pm   HUMCB 308

Thinking Through Style
The book I’m currently working on is basically an effort to theorize a contemporary concept of style – particularly in relation to philosophy.  If all goes well, I should have a draft of the manuscript ready by fall. This seminar will basically teach that book (as I’m finishing it) along with many of the things to which the book responds. Readings will involve a lot of Derrida, Deleuze, and Nietzsche and other esoteric theory-wonkish stuff.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.