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Department of English Language and Literature

  • Books laying on their side on a top of a desk

Graduate Course Descriptions - Spring 2022

ENGL 566  -  Special Topics in US Film and Media   TTH 2:50-4:05pm, Gambrell 124   Mark Minett

Superheroes Across Media

Given the box office success of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and the recent flourishing of superheroes in filmed and animated television, the superhero and the superhero genre has arguably never had a higher cultural or industrial profile. This class will examine the superhero genre’s movement across art forms, industries, and eras. In doing so we will engage with and refine notions of genre, adaptation, storytelling strategies, industry, and reception. Primary focus will be placed on examining the iterations of iconic DC and Marvel comic book superheroes such as Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Avengers. The historical perspective we will take here seeks to cut against both the “mythic” approach and the naturalizing and essentializing notions of the superhero that you may be more familiar with. That is, rather than thinking about a superhero or the superhero genre in terms of broad cultural “significance,” pondering a given superhero’s psychology or philosophy as if they were a real person, or worrying about whether a given adaptation lacks fidelity we will instead focus on understanding the large-scale design and concrete details of given iterations within specific industrial and cultural contexts. The class will serve as both a historical poetics of superhero storytelling across media and as a multi-industrial history. CRN 47122.

ENGL 601  -  Seminar in Verse Composition    W 5:50-8:35pm, Gambrell 123   Nikky Finney

Second half of a year-long course in the writing of poetry taught by a contemporary poet. Limited to 15 students. CRN 42444.

ENGL 610  -  Fiction Workshop:  Book-Length Manuscript   Th 6:00-8:45pm, Gambrell 130    Elise 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. (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.) CRN 42445.

ENGL 692  -  Teaching Composition in College   SJMC 321    MW 2:20-3:35pm     Chris Holcomb

This course builds on and extends the theoretical and practical knowledge you developed last semester while taking ENGL 691 and teaching ENGL 101. It does so by offering you practical strategies for teaching ENGL 102, while situating those strategies (and the rationales behind them) in their scholarly contexts. We will begin with a general introduction to rhetoric and its traditions in the West—particularly its origins and functions in antiquity and its place within modern composition studies. Throughout this discussion, we will pay special attention to concepts featured in the textbook you will be using in ENGL 102, The Carolina Rhetoric, concepts that include rhetoric and its various meanings, rhetorical analysis, the rhetorical situation, Aristotle's modes of proof, kairos, stasis theory, the enthymeme, and the canons of rhetoric. 

The rest of the course will be guided by two primary goals: first, to expand our understanding of the scholarship on rhetoric, writing instruction, and researched-based writing; second, to answer your practical needs as teachers of ENGL 102. Towards these ends, the remainder of this course will anticipate the syllabus you will be teaching. After the general introduction to rhetoric, we will survey scholarship on, and strategies for teaching, such topics as argument, the rhetorical situation, style, grammar, visual rhetoric, genre, and the appropriate use and documentation of sources. CRN 45298.

ENGL 706  -  Special Topics in 16th & 17th Century British Literature   Gambrell 123   TTh 11:40-12:55pm    Edward Gieskes

Shakespeare and his Contemporaries

Shakespeare wrote his plays in a competitive and dynamic theatrical world and in this course we will survey that world. We will read plays by Shakespeare alongside those of his peers and sometime rivals as part of an effort to develop a sense of the shape of the dramatic field in early modern London. We will also examine representative scholarship in literary and theatre history. Writers may include: Elizabeth Cary, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, John Marston, Thomas Middleton, and John Webster. CRN 51819.

ENGL 721  -  Special Topics in 19th Century American Literature   Gambrell 404   M 5:50-8:35pm    David 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. CRN 57047.

ENGL 722-001  - Special Topics in 20th & 21st Century American Literature    Gambrell 106   TTh 1:15-2:30pm    Catherine Keyser

Troubling Women: The Modern US Novel and Controversial Characters

This course follows the figure of the scandalous woman through twentieth-century US fiction, recognizing that both misogyny and desire contribute to her characterization. The woman who cannot be controlled or contained, who is scapegoated by her community, who shirks social or sexual mores is such a prominent figure in the modern novel that she might even be deemed its preoccupation. Taking an intersectional feminist approach to the modern novel will help the seminar explore the reasons that the body, desires, agency, and autonomy of girls and women take center stage in the genre. Furthermore, the seminar will explore how the plot and themes of a modern novel may be working to discipline this controversial character, while imagery, tone, or digression can point us in a different direction, naming the undisciplined modern woman as a queer or heroic figure, even when she seems to be vilified. CRN 56184.


ENGL 722-002  - Special Topics in 20th & 21st Century American Literature    Gambrell 130   W 5:50-8:35pm    Susan Vanderborg

Transformations of the Book in Contemporary American Literature

What will the book look like in the 21st century? This reading-intensive class (15% lecture, 85% discussion) studies a selection of North American books—and a few texts that influenced American experiments—by reinventing the function and format of the codex. These texts experiment with typography, page layout, narrative sequence, paratexts, intertexts, and illustrations, and they offer new perspectives on the relationship between print books and electronic texts.

Many also redefine the epistemological idea of the book—changing how we process information/knowledge from such a text. In some cases, they even challenge whether the main purpose of a book is to convey or “stor[e]” “information,” as book historian Frederick Kilgour argues in The Evolution of the Book. And as Adrian Johns notes in The Nature of the Book, which talks about piracy in print editions, don’t assume that every book, whether ancient or modern, always has “reliable” information, or is even by the advertised author (1-6).

Two texts we’ll read about code a poem into a DNA sequence and then implant it inside a bacterium to make a “living poem.” CRN 56185.

ENGL 734  -  Modern Literary Theory    HUMCB  104   TTh 1:15-2:30pm    Krista Van Fleit

This course is a survey of modern (mainly European) literary theory designed to give students a foundation to use in their study of literature and cultural texts.  The very nature of the course means we will have to sacrifice depth for breadth, giving some attention to all major schools of criticism.  We will focus on thinkers that have been especially influential in shaping literary and cultural theory, such as Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Freud, Saussure, Derrida, Foucault, Spivak, and Judith Butler.  CRN 42450. Cross-listed with CPLT 702.

ENGL 741  -  Special Topics in African-American Literature    Gambrell 123    Th 6:00-8:45pm     Scott Trafton

Freedom Trains

This course explores more than three hundred years of African American writing on the concept of freedom. From slave spirituals to postmodern poetry, from the earliest published volumes of Black verse to some of the most recent, from slave narratives and calls for revolution to domestic fiction and landmarks in queer Black writing, “freedom” has meant many different things to many different people, and in this course we will read a wide range of texts that investigate these meanings.

At the conclusion of this course, students will be expected to be familiar with the principle features of the African American literary tradition, especially regarding issues of freedom, including the characteristics of specific authors and texts as well as their varying contexts more generally; they will also be expected to show mastery of the skills involved in crafting an analytic essay appropriate for an upper-division English course. This is neither a history course nor a sociology course, but history and sociology are intertwined approaches to understanding this literature, and thus there will be necessary attention paid to the particular historical and cultural contexts which produced the texts we will read; by the end of the semester, a working familiarity with some of these contexts will also be expected. CRN 55379.

ENGL 791  -  Introduction to Research on Written Composition   Gambrell 205   T 6:00-8:45pm     Hannah Rule

Introduction to the types and methods of research on written composition, both qualitative and quantitative. Students should expect intensive analysis of, and practice with, these types and methods toward garnering understanding of how knowledge is created and circulated in the field of composition and rhetoric. CRN 56187.

ENGL 793  -  Rhetorical Theory & Practice - Medieval to Modern    Davis 216   TTh 10:05-11:20am    Jonathan Edwards

Between the classical periods of Greek and Roman rhetoric and the contemporary study of rhetorical theory and criticism lies nearly 1,500 years--from the early fifth century CE to the middle of the nineteenth. The "Medieval to Modern" period is a vast landscape of social and political upheavals, religious reinventions, colonial expansions, technological innovations, and transformative reassessments of such topics as speech, writing, audience, invention, eloquence, style, decorum, truth, evidence, and rhetoric itself. In this course, we will follow a few of these threads and begin to explore the rich tapestry of rhetorical change and the ways in which the study, teaching, and practice of rhetoric shaped and was shaped by contingencies of power, access, status, and identity. Our study will include a selection of primary texts from figures such as Augustine, Boethius, Petrarch, Christine de Pizan, Desiderius Erasmus, Petrus Ramus, Thomas Hobbes, Madeleine de Scudéry, Giambattista Vico, Hugh Blair, George Campbell, and others. We will also explore recent secondary scholarship in medieval to modern rhetoric with particular emphasis on ways in which women, ethnic minorities, colonized peoples, and others used rhetoric within and against the political, religious, and culture conventions of their time. CRN 56189.

ENGL 803-001  -  Special Topics in Literature & Cultural Studies    Gambrell 123   M 5:50-8:35pm     Debra Rae Cohen

Modernist Women as Public Intellectuals

Though it’s now a discredited notion that modernists positioned themselves above the political fray, disdaining the world of mass culture about them in favor of the created worlds of their imaginations, there’s still much to be done to trace the intermingling of formal and political innovation. Many female modernist writers, in particular, construed the creation of an educated public as the best defense against fascism. This course examines that effort, looking at the novels, stories, essays and journalism of Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, and a selection of their contemporaries; we’ll discuss these works in light of theories about the responsibilities of the intellectual then and now. Readings may change to fit the particular interests of class members. CRN 48083.

ENGL 803-002  -  Special Topics in Literature & Cultural Studies    Gambrell 123   T 6:00-8:45pm     Anthony Jarrells

Enlightenment and its Discontents

This course will provide an introduction to some key texts and arguments of the Enlightenment, especially those centered around the important questions of whether human beings are naturally social, and – if they are – of what constitutes a truly good society? In addition, the course will examine three strands of critique of various Enlightenment accounts of society: first, from the Enlightenment period itself; second, from the period that immediately followed it (which came to be known as the Romantic period); and third, from what twentieth-century Frankfurt School writers called “critical theory.” Readings will include eighteenth-century philosophy and political economy, Romantic poetry, nineteenth-century novels, and theoretical works from a variety of perspectives. Throughout the course we will pause to reflect on what counts as Enlightenment today and on where society’s present discontent with the legacies of Enlightenment might be leading us. CRN 56191.

ENGL 890  -  Studies in Rhetoric and Composition    (Hybrid, online and Gambrell 103A)    W 5:50-8:35pm,      John Muckelbauer


This course will read and discuss works by Jacques Derrida.

CRN 42415.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.