Course Descriptions—Graduate Studies

400- thru 500-Level Literature
Course Descriptions


Same as BTW402.
Area Requirement: NONE

An introduction to English grammar and linguistics, including: phonetics and phonology; morphology; syntax; semantics and pragmatics; sociolinguistics; language policy; writing; language acquisition; psycholinguistics and cognitive linguistics. Models and encourages a descriptive, curious, dynamic approach to the study of (English) language. Requires students to consider and explore the significance and application of their learning to their current and future life, work, and interactions, including the teaching of English at the secondary level.

404 ENGL GRAMMAR FOR ESL TEACHERS, Talic. MWF 11-11:50  CRN 43879
Same as EIL 422. See EIL 422.
Area Requirement: NONE                                       

418 1U/1G SHAKESPEARE, Newcomb.  TR 2-3:15  CRN 54465
Area Requirement: British, 1485-1660 & MFA Lit

This course aims to give you a strong grounding in analyzing Shakespeare’s drama, including some of his lesser-known works, by reading at least seven of his plays, from Taming of the Shrew to Coriolanus, alongside background essays, source texts, and scholarly articles. We will explore Shakespeare’s growing versatility in a range of dramatic genres: history, comedy, tragedy, romance, and the “problem play.” Across these genres, we will investigate the development of his poetic skill, focusing on language alongside plot and character, while also considering how he reworks some of his key sources. We will think about his plays not only as historical artifacts, produced within a specific context and responding to prior works, but also as living texts that continue to be performed today. We will therefore intertwine multiple methods in our analysis. We’ll engage in close reading of his dramatic verse (which is, after all, often poetry); analyze historical background and contemporary critical articles (to situate Shakespeare both within his historical time period and within present day scholarly debates); and watch and perform key scenes (to consider drama as performance and performance as an interpretive act). Students who took my Fall 218 course cannot sign up for this class.

421 1U/1G Later Renaiss Poetry & Prose, Gray.  TR 9:30-10:45  CRN 32147 
Area Requirement: British, 1485-1660 & MFA Lit

Most literary historians like to claim their period as a turning point, but scholars of the seventeenth-century have an edge: in 1649, the English took the unprecedented step of trying their king for treason and then beheading him. In this course we will explore the artistic and intellectual questioning that characterizes seventeenth-century poetry and prose between roughly 1603 and 1668. Focusing on some of the major writers of the time, we will analyze traditional ideas about religion, politics, gender, and genre as they occur early in the century, and then watch as they mutate in a turbulent context of civil war, regicide, and literary experiment. Authors will include John Donne, Rachel Speght, Andrew Marvell, Robert Herrick, Gerald Winstanley, John Milton, and Aphra Behn

458 Latina/o Performance, Ruiz. R 3:30-5:50  CRN 63859
Same as LLS 458. See LLS 458.       
Area Requirement: Later American Literature & MFA Lit

In this course, we will focus on Latina/o performances from the 1970s to the present in order to highlight the relationship between exercises of everyday life, acts on stage, and media art. In doing so, we will pay particular attention to the material body and bodies of work by scholars of Latina/o Performance Studies. As such, we will critically engage with performance theory, video performances, and theorizations of Latinidad and the body.

460 OLU/OLG LIT OF AMERICAN MINORITIES, D. Wright.   CRN 59138      
Topic: Lit of American Minorities
On-Line 2nd 8 week section
(March 12 – May 2, 2018)
Area Requirement: NONE   

This course will use a multi-disciplinary approach to explore the perceived role, or “place,” of blacks and other marginalized groups (including women and the poor) in US society as it was represented in popular forms of expression, such as literature, film, theater and music at the turn of the twentieth century. We will begin with cultural production from the Reconstruction and progress through the Harlem Renaissance and explore such themes as identity and representation; “black face” minstrelsy; “manifest destiny” and modernity; etc.

462 1U/1G TOPICS IN MODERN FICTION, Bauer. TR 9:30-10:45    CRN 32235  
TOPIC: Reading Popular 19th Century US Writing: From Maria Monk to E.D.E.N.
Area Requirement: Early American Literature & MFA Lit

Reading Popular 19th-century US Writing: From Maria Monk to E.D.E.N. Southworth and Edith Wharton Starting with early popular writing in tracts and memoirs, to Elizabeth Stuart Phelps's major novel about wage inequality, and ending with a short story by the Pulitzer Prize-winning Edith Wharton, we will read and analyze a variety of mostly late 19th-century popular writers whose work led us to modern American writing. Our major book will be Paul Gutjahr's edited collection, Popular American Literature of the Nineteenth Century, which includes writings by George Aiken, Laura Jean Libbey, and Charles Sheldon, once household names but now recovered by American literary historians. This course will ask you to deliver one brief oral report, write response assignments, and a semester-long critical review. As part of our regular class meetings, we will discuss your writing and peer reviews of it.

475 1U/1G LIT AND OTHER DICIPLINES, Littlefield.  TR 2-3:15 CRN 43335     
Topic: Science and Technology Studies
Area Requirement: NONE – MFA Lit

Topic: Science and Technology Studies • Why are mammals called mammals? • What do racial politics have to do with the origins of modern gynecology? • How are pharmaceutical companies changing our definitions of health? • When did sperm and eggs take on a life of their own? This course is an introduction to Science and Technology Studies. Specifically, we will explore how scientists, sciences, and technologies understand and politicize bodies. We'll pay particular attention to how those bodies are represented in a variety of literatures. We will begin by asking some practical questions: who’s doing science? How did various sciences come into being? We will then work through a series of case studies, like those listed above, that address the ways in which bodies have been used in science and created by scientific discourse. Throughout, we will discuss how fiction can be a tool-kit for challenging conventional relationships between science and the body. No exams! Course work includes audience-centered writing assignments and a research project, topic of student's choice! Short stories and novels by Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler, Judith Merrill, H.G. Wells, Nathaniel Hawthorne . . . and many more!

482 1U/1G WRITING TECHNOLOGIES, Schaffner. TR 2-3:15 CRN 44168 same as IS 482
TOPIC: Communicating in the Digital Age
Area Requirement: NONE   

Some writing technologies have been banned while others have been fetishized. This is a hands-on course about exploring the histories, affordances, and limitations of various writing technologies. We will work with moveable type, compare stylus-based writing technologies, write on manual and electronic typewriters, compare word processors, and experiment with the array of writing technologies embedded in our portable electronic devices. Students in this class will do such things as create an original typeface, learn some simple HTML, and explore clandestine writing technologies such as stencil graffiti and phishing scams. As a 400-level class, undergraduates and graduate students from across campus are encouraged to enroll.

Same as ESE 498. See ESE 498.
Area Requirement: NONE 

Provides students with both the experience of the real-world editorial process and with a research product (the published essay) that showcases their professional development as well-informed and persuasive writers on environmental issues.

504 THEORIES OF CINEMA, Turnock T 1:00-4:50  CRN 43352
same as MACS 504, CWL 504
Area Requirement: Film

This semester the course begins with a review of basic and formative film theory, understood within the historical context in which it was and is written and received. Building on this groundwork, the course then moves on to consider rhetorical aspects of film theory and asks what theories film scholars can use to address the relationships among film, politics, and society.

524 SEMINAR IN 17TH C LITERATURE, Gray. T 1:00-2:50  CRN 32264 
TOPIC: Milton Now

Area Requirement: British, 1485-1660 & MFA Lit

Milton Now Milton was a blind seer, regicidal prose-writer, and influential poet. He also wrote arguably the most ambitious English epic, one that aimed to explain the deep historical origins of human life while also addressing his war-torn contemporary moment, with all its political, affective, and spiritual turbulence. Milton grappled with some of the most controversial issues of his time, including divorce and tyrannicide, while also elaborating ideas that often sit uncomfortably together: he was a censor who argued for restraining censorship, a zealous anti-Catholic who argued for a limited liberty of conscience. He was known to his contemporaries as both the virginal and feminized “Lady of Christs” and the libertine “Milton the Divorcer” or “Milton the stallion.” This course will explore Milton’s prodigious, dense, and often contradictory output, starting with his early verse and polemical prose works published in the first half of the seventeenth century and spending much of the second half of the semester on reading Paradise Lost (1667). Throughout, we’ll situate his work within two main contexts. First, we’ll consider the armed turmoil of the mid-seventeenth-century, which raised pressing questions about state form and political rhetoric, sex-gender relations and identities, and the ethics and effects of violence. To do this, we’ll explore a handful of important seventeenth-century interlocutors for Milton, including the republicans Andrew Marvell and Lucy Hutchinson, the radical sectarian Anna Trapnel, and King Charles I himself. Second, we’ll read a smattering of scholarship by a range of Miltonists, focusing in particular on new scholars who bring a diverse array of methods to try to rethink how we understand this most canonical of authors. We’ll talk about historicism’s Milton but also eco-criticism’s Milton, feminism’s Milton, and queer Milton.

543 SEMINAR MODERN BRIT LITERATURE, Mahaffey. W 1:00-2:50 CRN 43359
TOPIC: Irish Christian Comedy Area Requirement: British, 1900 to Present & MFA Lit

Sophisticated Christian comedy is arguably rare everywhere but in twentieth-century Ireland, where it was also most dangerous. I plan to examine the burst of Christian comedies that began with John Synge's 1907 The Playboy of the Western World, emerging later in James Joyce's 1914 A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and then structuring Finnegans Wake (1939), and culminating in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot and Endgame (premiering in 1953 and 1957, respectively). Part of what is so interesting about Christian comedy is that it draws attention to the paradoxical and thereby humorous ways in which fictional stories can be true. To subject a religious story to comic treatment unveils the kinship between religious scripture and other forms of fiction; one might define scripture as a story designed to be so serious as to be beyond question. Religion, in fact, binds its believers to certain kinds of thought and behavior (religare means "to bind"). Comedy, in contrast, challenges the sufficiency (or questions the effects) of a given governing story; it unbinds. But comedy cannot challenge religious stories directly without danger of reprisal: censorship or banning of the work; excommunication or even death for the writer. Christian comedy aims not to dislodge sacred stories, but to stretch and multiply them by embedding them in the activities of everyday life. It meaningfully connects sacred truths with what I call "brutal" truths about the brevity and apparent randomness of mortal existence. Most importantly, because comedy is a form of affirmation, Christian comedies effectively affirm the coexistence of the sacred and the profane in an inclusive and dynamic way. They aim to form communities not of "chosen" people, but of all people, including (and sometimes starring) its reprobates. In this course, we will read selected essays about comedy and laughter, including attitudes towards laughter in religion. We will begin by reading a couple of Medieval Bible Plays, perhaps the Towneley Second Shepherds’ Play and The Chester Shepherds’ Play (Rob Barrett will attend this class and help guide our discussion). We will also take a look at Rabelais’ Pantagruel and selections from Erasmus. At this point, we will turn to the main subject of the course, Irish Christian comedy, and begin with Synge’s Playboy. We will then read Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, selections from Finnegans Wake, and end with Beckett’s Waiting for Godot and Endgame. Requirements for the course include one written/oral report (anything that will fit on one page, to be photocopied, distributed to the class, and read aloud), and several short explications of individual works (probably 3-5 explications). The main focus of the class is on the reading, and the explications are designed to sharpen and deepen the reader’s analytical focus.

547 SEMINAR EARLIER AMERICAN LIT, Spires. M 3:00-4:50 CRN 39293
Area Requirement: Early American & MFA Lit

This course will focus on the emergence of what we have come to think of as early African American print culture in the U.S. antebellum period. We begin with an overview of book history and print culture studies generally, focusing our attention on early African American print production and seriality as the semester moves forward. In examining print as both a cultural form and a marketable commodity, we will situate texts within a variety of distributional, technological, consumerist, and discursive networks. We will historicize and theorize modes of antebellum authorship, circulation, and readership as well as attend to particular genres and forms. This attention also means thinking critically and intersectionally about processes of racialization, gendering, class formation, and imperialism. Our specific case studies will be drawn from early African American print culture, from Phillis Wheatley through Pauline Hopkins. Indeed, we will use African American literature as our lens for understanding the long nineteenth century. In this way, we will not only think about what the study of print culture might bring to early African American literary studies, but also what early African American literary studies might bring to print culture studies. Authors for consideration include: Phillis Wheatley, Maria Stewart, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Frederick Douglass, William Wells Brown, and others.

553 SEMINAR LATER AMERICAN LIT, Jenkins. R 3:00-4:50  CRN 32278
TOPIC: Speculative Pessimisms: Social Death and the Afro-Future
Area Requirement: Later American & MFA Lit

Speculative Pessimisms: Social Death and the Afro-Future This course will engage with what has been described as the genre turn in 21st century African American cultural production—the literary and cultural movement called Afrofuturism, as well as black speculative fiction more broadly—alongside a school of thought that has garnered, recently, a great deal of both positive and negative attention in the field: Afro-Pessimism. The latter argues that the position of the black subject in Western society is synonymous with that of the Slave, a condition of non-being—absolute fungibility and subjection—based in the slave’s status not as worker, but commodity. Our project will be to consider how these two movements might have both a similarly pessimistic and a similarly imaginative provenance. The Afro-Pessimist position insists that the violent exclusion of black non-being creates the conditions for the existence of the Human, and indeed that civil society’s structuring around anti-blackness, and the position of the black subject vis-a-vis that society, is one of irreconcilable antagonism. How might we understand this analysis as a speculative one—in Jared Sexton’s words, how might we unpack “the rhetorical dimensions of the discourse of Afro-Pessimism [. . .] and the productive theoretical effects of the fiction it creates”? Conversely, how might we consider the increasingly wide reach of the speculative, writ broadly, in 21st century black literature and culture, concomitantly with the evident pessimism about the world, as it exists, that would elicit such imaginative projects? Might we understand contemporary Afrofuturism and the speculative both as tending towards the pessimistic, either in inspiration—turning to the future, and to other sorts of alternative timelines, in response to a painful and disappointing present—or in narrative outcome, wherein these speculative works depict dark, dystopian futures or dwell within and bring to life an unbearable past? Throughout this semester, we will unpack not only what possibilities thinking Afro-Pessimism and Afrofuturism/the black speculative together might open up for the analysis of 21st century African American literature and culture, but also what we might learn from this juxtaposition about both the potential and the pitfalls of each mode of theorizing contemporary black life. Primary texts may include fiction by Jesmyn Ward, Colson Whitehead, Octavia Butler, Victor LaValle, Nnedi Okorafor, and N.K. Jemisin, and films by Jordan Peele, Ryan Coogler, and Janelle Monae; critical texts will include selected work from, at minimum, Frank Wilderson, Jared Sexton, Saidiya Hartman, David Marriott, Terrion Williamson, Kinitra Brooks, Tina Campt, Hortense Spillers, Alex Weheliye, and Fred Moten. Participation, two short critical response papers, oral presentation, final seminar paper.

581 SEMINAR LITERARY THEORY, Byrd. M 1:00-2:50 CRN 32282       
The Settler Colonial Turn
Area Requirement: Critical Theory, Anglophone & MFA Lit

Settler colonialism now circulates as a critical orientation across a range of disciplines as it reorients how we understand arrival and dispersal, possession and dispossession in the global north and south. This class will offer an intersectional analysis of settler colonial studies as it has developed through postcolonial studies. Readings will draw from and situated through interventions from indigenous studies, queer studies, feminist studies, technology studies, and theories of antiblackness as they shape the political, historical, and contemporary understandings of race, place, and nation within the United States and Canada in particular, with attention given to other geographies as well.

582 TOPICS RESEARCH AND WRITING, Gallagher. W 1:00-2:50  CRN 32283       
TOPIC: Audience and Reception

Area Requirement: Writing Studies

Audience and Reception Studies in Writing Studies This seminar explores how to produce empirically-grounded and theoretically-rich studies of audiences in writing studies. It focuses on the fragmentation of audience theory after the propaganda of WWII and the so-called “hypodermic needle theory” of behaviorism in the early twentieth century. Beginning with Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca’s “universal audience,” we will focus on the development of audience theory through the term’s various deployments (e.g., involved audiences, discourse community, publics, users, networks, assemblages, machines). In more practical terms, we will examine the reception of writing and rhetoric (e.g., Kjeldsen, Stromer-Galley and Schiappa), focusing on ways to produce procedurally sound surveys and interviews. To put these ideas into practice, we will design both digital and analogue surveys as well as practice interviewing through a series of contexts (i.e., in-person, phone, video chat). Over the course of the semester, we will do several in-class activities that focus on reception studies, including how to structure (“clean”) the data obtained from surveys and transcription techniques. The course culminates in a research design that students could use in their current or future studies.

584 TOPICS DISCOURSE AND WRITING, Prior. T 1:00-2:50 CRN 322
same as CI 569       
Topic: Writing, academic argument, and disciplinarily

Area Requirement: Writing Studies                                                                                                                                                            

Topic: Writing, academic argument, and disciplinarily Notions of academic argumentation have often been approached abstractly as matters of writing in certain formal ways in well-ordered disciplinary contexts. This seminar explores the theoretical and ideological underpinnings of such notions and alternative approaches grounded in more complex understandings of writing as literate and semiotic practice, of arguments as dialogic engagements, and of disciplines as rhizomatic accomplishments rather than governed territories. The seminar will take up work on argumentation (e.g., Toulmin, Gaonkar, Foss), science studies (e.g., Latour, Knorr-Cetina, Haraway), anthropology (e.g., Goodwin, Irvine, Lempert, Ochs), and writing/literacy studies (e.g., Prior, Miller, Wilder, Newell). It will sketch an ethnographic framework that offers a different approach to Writing across the Curriculum (WAC) and English for Academic Purposes (EAP) and challenges representations of argument in k-12 Common Core curricula. Students will identify and develop a final project that examines some key dimensions linking writing, academic arguments, and disciplinarily.

593 PROFESSIONAL SEMINAR COLLEGE TEACHING, Pollock. W 3:00-4:50 CRN 45985      
Seminar in Pedagogy and the Teaching of Literature
Area Requirement: NONE

This seminar is designed to help graduate students develop courses in literary study, focusing on the related practices of lesson-planning, discussion-leading, outcome-assessment, and pedagogical self-reflection. Framed occasionally by readings in recent pedagogical theory, our discussions will be organized around the following three projects: 1) we will analyze the comparative strengths of different teaching and course-design strategies in achieving a wide range of curricular goals in the literature classroom; 2) we will develop persuasive powerful ways of describing precisely what we do as teachers of literary and cultural studies, as well as why and how we do it; and 3) we will articulate flexible criteria for designing effective syllabi and assignments for different kinds of courses and texts. By the end of the seminar, each participant will have designed lesson plans teaching in several of the genres covered not only in “Introduction to Literary Studies” courses (the gateway to the major in many English departments across the country), but also in more advanced courses in each student’s area of research specialization. Each participant in the seminar will also produce polished drafts of several documents that form the textual core of the teaching portfolios that can be essential to success on the job market–including sample syllabi, assignment sequences, evaluation rubrics, and teaching philosophy statements. Grades will be based on participants’ completion and revision of these key documents, and on their consistent, engaged, and thoughtful participation in seminar discussions and workshops.

500 Level Creative Writing
Course Descriptions


504 WRITING WORKSHOP IN FICTION, Thompson Spires.  M 1-2:50 (43388)

Area Requirement: MFA Fiction

Directed projects in fiction writing, either short stories or sections of a novel, with group discussion and critique.  There will be a course packet for the class, featuring short stories and essays on the writing of fiction and related topics; there will be a discussion of these readings at the beginning of each class meeting. 

506 WRITING WORKSHOP IN POETRY,  Van Landingham.  W 11:00-12:50 (43390)

Area Requirement: MFA Poetry
Directed individual projects, with group discussion in fiction.

563 BK SPECIAL TOPICS, Sanders.  T  1-2:50 (43392)       
TOPIC: Creative Nonfiction Workshop

Area Requirement: NONE

Creative Nonfiction Workshop Directed individual projects, with group discussion in creative nonfiction. Workshops and readings in various types of nonfiction prose, including personal essay, memoir, literary journalism, historical writing, and travel writing. Prerequisite: Admission to the MFA program, or graduate standing in English with advanced submission of creative work and consent of instructor.

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