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Department of English Language and Literature

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Graduate Course Descriptions - Fall 2020

ENGL 600     Seminar in Verse Composition     Countryman     Th 4:25pm-7:10pm     HUMCB 308

In this course, students will write and revise new poems ansd respond to one another’s work in written comments. We will also read poems by outside writers, which we'll look at alongside and in conversation with student work. Prerequisites: admission to the MFA program in poetry.

ENGL 602     Fiction Workshop: Short Story     Bajo     T 6:00pm-8:45pm     HUMCB 308

This course is a workshop for analyzing and critiquing student fiction. The stories, chapters, and excerpts submitted should be works intended for the MFA thesis, a collection or novel manuscript that is ready or near-ready for submission to publishers.

English 602 is for graduate students accepted into 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 603     Nonfiction Prose Workshop     Barilla     M 5:50pm-8:35pm     HUMCB 308

This course is an intensive workshop in the writing of creative nonfiction. We will explore the boundaries, aesthetics and traditions of the genre, with an emphasis on memoir. As this is a workshop, the bulk of our time in class will be spent discussing student writing, but the course will also include exercises in craft and the close examination of interesting work in the field.

ENGL 691     Teaching of Lit. In College     Levine     MW 2:20pm-3:35pm     Gambrell 247

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 1:15pm-2:30pm     HUMBC 308

This course is designed for graduate students in their first year 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; 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. ENGL 700 is a course best suited for incoming MA and PhD students; MFAs and returning students may find it useful as well, but are encouraged to discuss their reasons for enrolling with the instructor ahead of time.

ENGL 709     Special Topics in 19th Century British Lit. & Culture     Feldman     TR 2:50pm-4:05pm     HUMCB 312

British women poets of the Romantic era lived and wrote during a period of rapid social change and violent political upheaval. We will examine some of the most innovative poetic works written within this context—works conceived in revolutionary terms, which sought both personal and political transformation. In so doing, we will attempt to redefine the concept of “Romanticism” within a canon expanded to include some of the leading female poets of the period, such as Anna Letitia Barbauld, Mary Robinson, Charlotte Smith, Mary Tighe, Felicia Hemans, Helen Maria Williams, Mary Howitt, Joanna Baillie and others. Course requirements: two essays (8 -10 pages), an in-class presentation and a final exam. Class participation is important.

ENGL 722     Special Topics in 20th & 21st Century Am. Lit. & Culture       Keyser     TR 11:40am-12:55pm     HUMCB 308

Imposter Syndrome: The Modern U.S. Novel and Uncertain Identity

This course will offer a survey of the twentieth-century U.S. Novel, spilling into the twenty-first century, following the theme of imposture and the characterization of protagonists who perform an identity that they think or feel is not fully their own. These characters blur the supposedly indelible line between social categories (class, race, ethnicity, nationality, even humanity), and their performances reveal the artificiality as well as the lived power of whiteness, wealth, and Americanism. In this class, we will explore genres that emphasize transgressive behavior--like the novel of passing, hard-boiled detective fiction, and the psychological thriller—as well as the convergence of canonicity and imposture. After all, The Great Gatsby as “great American novel” is also arguably the story of a man who pretends to be something more than what and who he is. From James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man (1912) to Colson Whitehead’s The Nickel Boys (2019), the modern and contemporary novel shows us how feelings of inferiority serve as the first form of acculturation to a divisive racial and economic system. Through the unlikely performances of anti-heroic characters, however, the novel exposes the holes in the social fabric that allows other ways of being and living to peek through.

ENGL 741     Special Topics in African American Lit. & Culture     Collins     R 4:25pm-7:10pm     HUMCB 312

How have the concepts of black literary studies changed over the course of the late 20thc century? And what are the emergent concepts of contemporary black literary studies? How have these ideas about blackness developed, melded with, and/or resisted previous concepts of history, death, protest, embodiment, and survival?

This course is dedicated to the investigation of several dynamic vectors of black literary studies. We will consider developments, shifts, and trends in literary theories related to Afropessimism, Afrofuturism, black science and technology studies, black protest, black feminism, intersectionality, and black queer theory in the contemporary moment. The class will  also consider the ways that these theories influence black literary representations, namely the speculative. Authors we will encounter together include Saidiya Hartman, Franz Fanon, Kara Keeling, Octavia Butler, Colson Whitehead, Christina Sharpe, Alexander Weheliye, Andre Brock, Rivers Solomon, and others.

ENGL 796     Special Topics in the Teaching of English      Rule     M 4:40pm-7:25pm     Gambrell 106

The Pedagogically (Im)Possible: Imagining College Writing Instruction Otherwise

First-year writing or required university writing courses can get a bad rap -- at the least, they gatekeep; they are slow or tough to change; they are possibly boring, outdated, irrelevant. In this course, we'll work to shatter this image, multiplying our sense of what college writing instruction might do, looking to visionary work from writing pedagogues and theorists both historical and contemporary. As this course will build solid foundation in composition pedagogies, it is relevant and of interest to any graduate student who is or will teach writing. 

ENGL 797     Current Scholarship in Rhetoric & Comp.     Hawk     T 6:00pm-8:45pm     Gambrell 103A

This course will examine articles in the field's predominant journals from the past year and books published in the past two to three years to identify current trends in research and models for scholarly writing. Central themes will be academic writing, genre analysis, and citational networks. The course will ask students to analyze various rhetorical frameworks, examine journal articles and books for how these play out, and develop projects aimed toward a specific journal or disciplinary sub-field that utilizes these strategies. This could take the form of a literature review, a seminar paper revised as a journal article, a draft or a revision of an MA project, or a newly developed dissertation proposal or chapter. 

ENGL 803     Special Topics: Seminar In Literary & Cultural Studies     Dowdy     R 4:25pm-7:10pm     HUMCB 312

This course offers an in-depth introduction to Latinx literatures and to the guiding questions and conceptual foundations of Latino Studies. Our focus will be on Chicana/o/x (Mexican American) and Puerto Rican interventions in the rolling crises on the US-Mexico border and in the Puerto Rican archipelago and mainland diaspora. Over the course of the semester, readings by Latinx writers of other national origins, from Chile to El Salvador, will expand the scope of our inquiries. Our texts will be in many genres, anti-genres, and trans-genres: fictions, nonfictions, plays, poetries, performances, essays, auto-ethnographies, auto-fictions, and various border-crossing combinations thereof. Broad attention will be given to the historical-geographical foundations of Latinx subjectivities, primarily from the 1960s to the present, but also as far back as mid-19th century “proto-Latino” cultural formations, with special attention to how these formations intersect with race, indigeneity, and language. Knowledge of Spanish is not required. Expect to read one major work a week with supplemental theoretical and scholarly readings. Requirements include participation, a presentation, and a final project. Please email Professor Dowdy at with questions.

ENGL 804     Special Topics: Seminar In Theory and Crit. Methods Feminisms Now     Crocker     T 4:25pm-7:10pm     HUMCB 312

This course explores the centrality of gender, racemaking, sexuality, disability, and social class to different areas of feminist theory. We will not only think about how the terms of feminism have changed, we will also discuss where feminism might be headed in contemporary thought (particularly in relation to posthumanism, critical race theory, affective embodiment, and the material turn). While we will explore feminism’s multiplicity and diversity, we will pursue the overarching question common to all sorts of feminist theories, and that’s the relationship between theory and practice.    

ENGL 890     Studies in Rhetoric And Composition:   Digital Rhetoric     Brock     W 5:50pm-8:35pm     HUMCB 308

"Digital rhetoric" as a term tends to encompass several somewhat-overlapping conversations in the two disciplinary wings of rhetoric (communication-rhetoric and composition-rhetoric) that deal in different ways with similar questions:

  • How do traditional and conventional conceptions of 'rhetoric' occur through digital media?
  • How can we explore the rhetorical dimensions of digital technologies, situations, identities, and so on through various critical lenses?
  • How has rhetoric been theorized in regards to the various contours of digital communication?
  • What new and emergent forms of meaning-making do digital media afford to rhetors?

In this course, we'll explore "digital rhetoric" as an area of study from the early 90s through today, and we'll examine how scholarly inquiry has engaged the subject interdisciplinarily with, and been informed by, (among others) digital humanities, media studies, software engineering, and socio-cultural anthropology.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.