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Department of English Language and Literature

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Graduate Course Descriptions - Spring 2020

ENGL 601  -  Seminar in Verse Composition     W 5:50-8:35pm   Finney 

Second half of a year-long course in the writing of poetry taught by a contemporary poet. Limited to 15 students.

ENGL 610  -  Fiction Workshop:  Book-Length Manuscript     R 6:00-8:45pm     Blackwell 

This is the spring MFA fiction workshop. Students will write original literary fiction and analyze the fiction submitted by other workshop members. Both short stories and novel excerpts are welcome. 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. As time allows, we’ll also consider some contemporary aesthetic and professional issues. Students are encouraged to participate in the master classes attached to The Open Book, as their schedules permit. (Please note that this course is designed for students who have been admitted to the MFA program in fiction and is not open to undergraduates or for auditing.)

ENGL 615  -  Academic and Professional Writing     MW 11:10am-12:25pm     Glavey

This course is an experiment designed to serve both as a survey of the forms and forums available for contemporary academic writing and a practical workshop for the production of publishable work. Together we will discuss strategies for identifying the best audience for our writing and consider the publication process as it relates to both scholarly journals and more public-facing venues. In addition to writing and workshopping, over the semester we will also have an opportunity to hear from editors of various kinds and from faculty with recent experience with the publication process. This course is intended for English Department graduate students who plan to transform a draft that they have already begun—ideally a seminar or conference paper—into an essay that might be submitted to a journal. Please contact the instructor if you have any questions.

ENGL 692  -  Teaching of Composition In College     MW 3:55-5:10pm     Brock

This course is designed to give new graduate assistants the conceptual tools needed to teach rhetoric and argument in the composition classroom. Teaching composition and rhetoric is probably the most universal experience for graduate students and faculty in English. Regardless of specialization, you will almost certainly spend at least some of your time teaching composition from an argumentative point of view. The primary aim, then, is not to simply get you through your first year teaching, but to introduce you key rhetorical concepts and practices as a foundation for developing your own approach to teaching the course that coincides with both the discipline of composition and rhetoric and the university goals for the course.

ENGL 701  -  Special Topics in Old English Literature & Culture    MW 9:40-10:55am     Gwara

Old English

Intensive study of Old English language and literature with emphasis in the first half of the semester on grammar, and, in the second half, on interpreting verse texts. Verse selections include Dream of the Rood, The Wanderer, The Seafarer, and Battle of Maldon. We will also cover two or three prose selections, including Aelfric’s Colloquy, Genesis, and passages from the Life of St. Edmund. The readings will focus on cultural paradigms, largely relating to heroic ideals and the vexing problems of interpreting heroic and elegiac genres. We will have one translation exercise of about five pages, a mid-term, a research paper of about ten pages, a final exam, and weekly grammar quizzes for the first eight weeks. Our class includes one visit to Special Collections to examine facsimiles of Anglo-Saxon manuscripts and other important bibliographical resources. By May students will have all the necessary tools to conduct primary research in Old English. The course is essential preparation for ENGL 701: Beowulf. Earning a B average in ENGL 701: Old English or 701: Beowulf counts for foreign language credit in the English graduate program. Text: Bruce Mitchell and Fred C. Robinson, A Guide to Old English (7th edition).

ENGL 706  -  Special Topics in 16th & 17th British Literature & Culture     MW 12:45-2:00pm    Gieskes

Wild Justice – Revenge in Early Modern Drama

“Vengeance, thou Murder’s quit-rent, and whereby
Thou show’st thyself tenant to Tragedy,
Oh keep thy day, hour, minute, I beseech,
For those thou hast determined.”

          Thomas Middleton, The Revenger’s Tragedy

Middleton’s Vindice opens The Revenger’s Tragedy carrying a skull and imploring Revenge to keep its appointed hour, welcoming the violent repayment of murder with murder in a moment that expresses a common thread in revenge plays, while it also parodies. Revenge is a consistent “tenant” to tragedy throughout the period, and the arguably inaugural revenge play, Thomas Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy remained in the repertory for decades after its first performances at the end of the 1580s.

A few years earlier than Middleton’s play, Francis Bacon’s “Of Revenge” famously called revenge “a sort of wild justice” that ought to be curbed by the law, a position not endorsed by the drama. Audiences responded to plays about revenge despite (or because of) legal and religious prohibitions of private revenge.

In this course, we will examine some early modern theories about revenge as we read a broad range of plays where revenge figures as a driver of the plot. We will also read a range of criticism of what has traditionally been called revenge tragedy as we situate the plays in the early modern field of production and reception. Playwrights whose work we will read will include Shakespeare, Marlowe, Chapman, Marston, Middleton, and Webster.

ENGL 721  -  Special Topics in 19th Century American Literature & Culture     W 5:50-8:35pm    Greven

Influence and Intertextuality in the American Renaissance

Emboldened by the work of scholars such as Wai Chee Dimock, Ronan Mcdonald, and Julia Kristeva, this course reopens the question of literary influence in major texts of antebellum American literature. Rather than reestablishing traditional paradigms of influence, the course will focus on influence as a means of innovation and transformation of a wide array of source materials. Influence is a crucial component of American writers' conceptualizations of gender, sexuality, race, and class as well as their development of an American literary form. While American writers' engagement with British literary tradition will be a central concern, we will explore the impact of non-Western and non-literary texts as well. Class readings include works by Hawthorne, Melville, Emerson, Thoreau, and Stowe, precursor texts by Ovid, Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and the King James Bible, and translations from The Bhagavad Gita and the Koran.

ENGL 722 Sect. 001  -  Special Topics in 20th & 21st Century Am. Lit. & Culture     M 5:50-8:35pm     Whitted 

Graphic Memoir

This course is a scholarly study of comics narrative, form, and aesthetics through the genre of autobiographical and non-fiction life stories. We will outline the fundamentals of American comics history and critical analysis using Karin Kukkonen’s Studying Comics and Graphic Novels, before shifting to in-depth discussions of the following texts: Maus: A Survivor’s Tale; Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic; Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey; Spit and Passion; My Friend Dahmer; March: Book One; Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?: A Graphic Memoir; and Hot Comb. Assignments include weekly written responses, a class presentation, an annotated bibliography, a final paper, and an (optional) 2-page comic of your own. The course does not require prior experience with comics or drawing abilities.

ENGL 722 Sect. 001  -  Special Topics in 20th & 21st Century Am. Lit. & Culture     T 6:00-8:45pm     Vanderborg

American Poetry Since 1900: Collage and Montage

New and exciting forms of collage define 20th and 21st-century American poetry. A collage poem uses material from different source texts: other literary works (sometimes in multiple languages), mythological texts, historical and legal documents, pictures, photos, and excerpts from many other media. Some poems create their own multiple voices, perspectives, and vignettes organized around a central theme, as in Langston Hughes’s Montage of a Dream Deferred. We will not only cover a few multi-media visual texts, but will also look at projects where source texts were implanted in living organisms (bacteria) for our biopoetry unit.

This class examines why collage and montage have become such popular contemporary forms. How do they allow poets to create—or challenge— literary traditions, confront historical crises, define communal identity, and represent marginalized perspectives? And are there uniquely “American” subjects or styles of collage?

ENGL 734  -  Modern Rhetorical Theory     M 4:25-7:10pm     Guo

Cross-listed w/CPLT 702
An introduction to major literary theories and trends of the modern period, this course examines representative works from important theoretical schools and traditions, including but are not limited to, psychoanalysis, feminism, structuralism, poststructuralism, postcolonial studies, cultural studies, gender and sexuality studies, and ecocriticism. We will pay special attention to the relationship between literature and a set of intertwined questions—language, representation, self/other, subjectivity, agency, identity, politics, and, importantly, modernity, —that numerous important modern theoretical works are centrally concerned with.

ENGL 794  -  Modern Rhetorical Theory     T 6:00-8:30pm     Muckelbauer 


“Besides the question that has been very much studied in the past as to what a certain utterance means, there is a further question distinct from this as to what was the force, as we may call it, of the utterance.” J.L. Austin.

This course will pursue the implications of the distinction between the force vs. the meaning of utterances by focusing on the concept of performativity as it circulates through an array of 20th  and 21st century western thinkers. We will read selections from Austin, Jacques Derrida, John Searle, Judith Butler, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, Karen Barad and others.   

ENGL 803  -  Special Topics:  Seminar In Literary & Cultural Studies     TR 2:50-4:05pm     Cohen

Conditions of England(s)

The term “condition of England novel” is usually tied to a discrete body of Victorian representations that documented the effects of industrialization and, with an eye to reform, traced growing hostility between Disraeli’s “two nations” of rich and poor. But the term can also serve as a useful lens to examine the propensity to national diagnosis, self-examination, and revisionist historiography that has marked British representations since, through the 20th century and up to the present day. This class examines a range of such “condition-of-England novels,” some of which adhere to, or rediscover, the capacious realism of the originals, some of which explore new formal modes or documentary practices, and some of which aren’t novels at all.  Authors will probably include some or all of the following: Wells, Forster, Huxley, Woolf, Bowen, MacInnes, Kureishi, Swift, Smith, Ishiguro, Barnes—plus Mass-Observation, Skyfall, the Olympics, and Brexit-speak.

ENGL 890  -  Studies in Rhetoric And Composition     R 6:00-8:45pm     Hawk

Sound Studies and New Materialism

The course will address the impact of sound studies and new materialist thought on composition and rhetoric. The predominant understanding of rhetoric sees it as a social and symbolic art. While material things are certainly around us and at issue, it is human meaning, symbolicity, and persuasion that traditionally define rhetoric. Importantly, sound studies and the study of sound offer more than ways to interpret the meaning of sounds. They provide ways to investigate how sound attunes bodies, open up questions about sound’s ontological status, and impact how we think about the nature of composition. The class will trace conversations in composition and rhetoric regarding sound over the past decade, examine current texts from sound studies and new materialism in relation to these conversations, and work to develop related student projects in the field, both sonic and discursive.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.