English Course Descriptions: Fall 2012

Literature and Writing Studies Courses


English 101 provides students with a foundation in the methods of close reading and analysis essential to an understanding of poetry and, more broadly, to the study of literature. Furthermore, it introduces students to the ways we write and make arguments about poetry. The course addresses the basics of prosody, aspects of poetic language (such as diction, metaphor, image, tone), and major verse forms (such as the sonnet, elegy, ode, ballad, dramatic monologue, free verse). In addition to the formal qualities of poetry, students will also study poems from a range of literary periods and movements in order to learn how these formal qualities change and develop over time as well as how poems are both shaped by and, in some cases, even manage to shape their (and perhaps our) world.

Students will write twelve to fifteen pages of interpretation or criticism, spread out over two or more essays, and also take a midterm and a final examination.


Covering the history of dramatic form, the major genres, the dramatic traditions of various cultures, and key terms used in the analysis of dramatic works, this course serves as a general introduction to the drama. Reading plays from the ancient Greeks to the contemporary theatre, students will be taught skills in close reading and literary interpretation. But, because drama is written to be performed, students will also be asked to consider how textual meanings might be represented through visual and aural means. Course work usually includes several papers (12-15 pages total), a group performance/ presentation, and either several hour exams or a mid-term exam and a final exam.

103 E INTRO TO FICTION, Underwood. MWF 1

This class is designed to introduce you to the study of literature and literary history at the university level. It will give you a foundation for understanding fiction both aesthetically and historically. We will develop a critical vocabulary for analyzing the texts of fictional narratives, including concepts like genre and point of view. But we will also consider fiction as a social phenomenon: how have factors like publication venue, copyright law, mass literacy, marketing, and fandom changed the significance of narrative? Course requirements include a midterm, a cumulative final exam, two essays, and several informal writing assignments. Readings will include novels and short stories drawn from a range of historical periods and genres (from the seventeenth century to the twentieth).


same as MACS 104

The goal of this course is to develop students’ abilities to view films critically and to deepen their understanding of the cinema experience. The course first teaches analysis of narrative strategies, shot properties, mise-en-scène, acting, editing, and the use of sound in films, especially classical Hollywood movies. The course then focuses on the study of different genres and styles of films, including documentaries, feminist films, westerns, musicals, and melodramas, in terms of how they present ideological points of view and/or fulfill certain wishes of the spectator.

English/MACS 104 is an appropriate prerequisite for English /MACS 273 (an intermediate course in film analysis) and other advanced film classes. The course presents one film program including a feature film per week, shown in a required screening lab on Monday afternoon or evening. Each section meets for two 75-minute lecture-discussion sessions per week. All sections use Bordwell and Thompson’s Film Art as an introductory textbook and give additional reading assignments (essays and book chapters) available in a photocopied reader or on library reserve. Sections are designed so that each student contributes extensively in the discussions; attendance and participation are crucial in this course.

The minimum formal assignments are about 12 pages of expository writing (usually in 3 short essays, although some instructors may assign more writing), a midterm, and a three hour final exam; most instructors also give quizzes. On the exams, most instructors give a factual section (identification, brief answer) and a section of essay questions. This course earns 3 credit hours and qualifies as a General Education course in Humanities and the Arts. (Multiple sections)


English 109 is designed to introduce students to the critical analysis of prose fiction. By reading a wide range of short and long fiction across several historical periods, we will examine how such narrative strategies as plot, character, point of view and language construct meaning. Individual instructors will bring a variety of texts and interpretive methods to their courses, but special emphasis will be placed on concepts and skills central to good literary critical writing.

Course requirements include papers and paper revisions totaling 25-30 pages. Papers are assigned according to the judgment of individual instructors, but will include assignments of various lengths and several opportunities for review and revision.

TEXTS: Readings vary from section to section but always include an anthology of short fiction and three or four novels.


same as RLST 101, CWL 111

Themes and literary genres in the Bible, emphasizing content important in Western culture.


This course is designed to acquaint students with examples of the rich diversity of British prose, poetry, and drama. Works selected will vary from section to section, but instructors usually rely upon the Norton Anthology of English Literature, Major Authors Ed., along with a few supplementary paperbacks, for the assigned readings. As a basic introduction to English literature, this course does not offer a complete chronological survey of all or even most major writers. It offers instead a series of literary texts, often thematically related, which appeal to modern readers and at the same time provide interesting insights into the cultural attitudes and values of the periods which produced them.


This course will cover a small sampling of literature written by American authors; the sampling may include essays, narratives, drama, and poems from various periods in American literary history. Texts for reading and discussion will include literature representing a variety of gender and ethnic perspectives.


same as CWL 119

Surveys masterworks in the romance tradition from Shakespeare’s time to the present; as distinct from science fiction, the materials feature magic and the supernatural rather than technology; and include stage romance, fairy tale, horror tale, and fantasy-novel. Individual works are set in their historical and literary contexts.

120 P SCIENCE FICTION, Littlefield. TUTH 11-12:15

This course will introduce you to science fiction, the literary form that expresses some of our culture's deepest concerns and fears, as well as its greatest hopes; that provides creative answers to fundamental questions about the nature of the universe and humans’ place in it; that also warns us about the possible results of our society’s current errors, and forecasts the infinite possibilities open to us. Texts for this course will be drawn from a variety of early and contemporary authors, including Mary Shelley, H.G. Wells, Kate Wilhelm, Ray Bradbury, and Margaret Atwood. Our approach will be discussion- and project-based, but will also likely include response papers and a midterm exam.


Campus Honors

TOPIC: Charles Dickens: From Novel to Film

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, whose outstanding reputation as a novelist, after two centuries, is secure. The novels of Charles Dickens have been favorite sources for adaptation to films, and over the 20th Century the number of Dickens films runs into the hundreds. Dickens’ novels have sure-fire potentialities for cinematic treatment: melodramatic plots, an array of unforgettable major, and especially, minor characters, lots of sentiment, and evidence of Dickens’ passions as a social reformer.

The pictorial, almost documentary qualities of Dickens’ novels have been widely noted. Dickens in his fiction created one of the first compelling images of a modern metropolis...teeming, smoky, foggy London, and film directors such as David Lean have captured that atmosphere with varying degrees of success. The Dickens films to be studied will range from classic Hollywood films of the 1930s to the post-World War II British Dickens revival, and to the more recent TV serial versions.

In this course we will examine the process by which Dickens’ prose is transformed into screen images. We will study screen adaptations of some of Dickens best known works such as Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations, and other works as time allows.

There will be student reports, a test after each novel, and essays on various aspects of the adaptive process, as well as a final exam.


TOPIC: Reading for Writers

Think of Reading for Writers as the course a group of fiction writers and poets might take when they want to talk and write about the mechanics of stories and poems, the decisions that face writers as they build or shape the things they write, the formal elements that time and again surface as the basic tools at hand. This course seeks also to help writers understand the necessity for a shared reading list that encourages conversations among writers about what we do and how it gets done well. Such a reading list should help writers as they move through one of our Creative Writing sequences, poetry or fiction. Expect to write a handful of very short response papers (200-400 words) and 2-3 medium-length analyses (total of 12 pages). This class satisfies a literature requirement in the Creative Writing major.

199 RM UNDERGRADUATE OPEN SEMINAR, Mehta. Lect: TUTH 1; Screening: TU 7-10 pm

meets with CWL 207, MACS 207

TOPIC: Indian Cinema in Context

An introduction to Indian mainstream cinema, mostly Bollywood, and its evolution through the last 7 decades. Topics to be explored include the relation between Indian society/culture and its cinematic representations, cinema's resistance to dominant nationalist and patriarchal ideologies, its interactions with the postcolonial nation-state of India, how globalization has changed the industry, etc. All films will be screened with subtitles. No knowledge of Hindi or any other Indian language is required. This course is open to all majors.


This course might be called “How to Be an English Major.” It offers tips on how to make the transition from the high-school study of literature to college-level study. The class will read a relatively small number of poems, novels, short stories, and plays, exploring a number of critical approaches to each. Emphasis will be placed on close reading of short passages, the historical contexts of literature, the way genre affects our reading practices, and the criteria for persuasive interpretations. Students will practice their critical skills in a number of short papers and other assignments.

TEXTS: Vary according to section.


Group I

same as CWL 253, MDVL 201

British and continental authors (including Chaucer) read in modern English.


Group I

same as CWL 255

Readings in English and continental literary masterpieces with attention to significant cultural influences.


Group I

The term “enlightenment,” with its chilly connotations of reason, morals, and decorum, tends to be construed in opposition to the messy business of human life: sex, religion, and death. In this course, we will look at how, in the eighteenth century, enlightenment illuminated these dark corners of human subjectivity in unexpected ways. By reading across a variety of canonical and noncanonical genres and analyzing the rhetorical forms of eighteenth-century thought, we will achieve an understanding of how various literary forms evolved in response to the period’s arguments and uncertainty. By the end of this course, you will be able to read a wide variety of eighteenth-century texts with comprehension and enjoyment and you will understand how those texts depict innovative forms of thought that continue to shape the way we interpret the world. Requirements will include contributions to the course blog, active participation in class discussion (including leading discussion on one of the course readings), two papers, and a take-home final exam.


Group II

The Romantics are most popularly known for their interest in natural landscape, and in exploring extreme states of emotion through poetry. This course will treat these major themes in the work of Wordsworth, Keats, Shelley, Byron, and others. Far from being the lonely dreamers they are often represented as, these writers were also closely invested in the major political movements of the day: the French Revolution, political reform, the abolition of slavery, and the rights of women. We will consider Romantic writings on these subjects, as well as their reflections on the vibrant culture around them, particularly the theater and art worlds. There will be quizzes, two papers, a midterm, and a final. Active class participation is expected.


Group II

Study of literature, philosophy, visual arts, and social criticism of the British Victorian period, with attention to broader cultural issues.

209 AL1 BRITISH LITERATURE TO 1798, Trilling. Lect: MW 10; Disc: F various times

This course is intended to survey more than a thousand years of British literature from the early Middle Ages through the eighteenth century. But what does “British literature” really mean? The range of languages, genres, peoples, characters, and contexts that fall under this heading is downright staggering, and part of our goal in this course will be simply to appreciate the sheer volume and breadth of written work created in the British archipelago between the eighth and eighteenth centuries. We will do this through a necessarily selective sampling of historical periods, languages, and genres. Some of the texts we read will be attached to famous names like Chaucer, Milton, and Shakespeare; others are composed by lesser-known, and even unknown, authors. In each case, however, we will work to understand how the categories of genre, language, form, and historical period have been used to construct the discipline of English literary studies.

210 AL1 BRITISH LIT 1798 TO PRESENT, Saville. Lect: MW 11; Disc: F various times

Our purpose in this course will be to construct a reader’s map negotiating three principle periods of British literature: Romantic (1785-1830); Victorian (1830-1901); and Twentieth Century, and within these, various literary movements, such as Romanticism, Realism, Aestheticism, Modernism, and Post-Colonialism. We will consider ways in which specific literary forms and genres (for instance, the serialized novel, the dramatic monologue, the treatise, the critical essay) function to reflect as well as produce or alter cultural perceptions within a specific period. We will devise some initial paths through this vast expanse of literature on the understanding that we can return to make more thorough inroads into each period in more advanced literature courses and at a later date.

TEXTS: Norton Anthology of English Literature, (recommended in three separate volumes for lighter back-pack convenience); Jane Austen, Persuasion; Charles Dickens, Hard Times


Fulfills Shakespeare Requirement for Secondary Education minors only

English 218 is intended for non-English majors who wish to become more familiar with Shakespeare’s plays. In this section we’ll read eight plays by Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet; Midsummer Night’s Dream; the Q1 Hamlet (this is the so-called “bad” version of Hamlet: “To be, or not to be, aye there’s the point”); The Merchant of Venice; As You Like It; Macbeth; Othello; and the late romance The Winter’s Tale (also expect to read a sampling of his sonnets). I don’t plan to assign any additional background reading, although Tiffany Stern’s Making Shakespeare (Routledge) is recommended. I’ll be drawing from that text in order to give you some insight into Shakespeare-the-theater-professional rather than Shakespeare-the-Bard—that is, William Shakespeare was an actor and a playwright with a financial stake in the theater company to which he was attached. His fellow actors, the physical spaces of the Globe and the Blackfriars theaters, and any number of material factors necessarily shaped the plays he wrote.

The class will combine lecture and discussion. Evaluation will be based on participation, including a willingness to read lines out loud and block scenes in class; one group performance project; one mid-term and one final examination; and two or three short written assignments. Also expect structured group work. I will be ordering the Folger editions of each plays and the Arden3 edition of Hamlet; it’s easier to follow along in class if we all have the same editions, although I understand if you prefer using editions of these plays you may already own.

218 Q INTRO TO SHAKESPEARE, Kay. TUTH 12:30-1:45

Fulfills Shakespeare Requirement for Secondary Education minors only

We will look at seven plays, starting with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado about Nothing, Henry the Fourth, Part One, and Twelfth Night. After the mid-term exam we’ll consider Othello, the tragic counterpart to Much Ado, and King Lear, a tragic treatment of the theme of folly found in Twelfth Night. We will conclude with Shakespeare’s great Roman history, Antony and Cleopatra. Course work will include the mid-term and final exams, several papers, and quizzes or in-class writing on the daily readings. Texts will be the newly revised Signet Shakespeare editions of the plays.

223 M JEWISH STORYTELLING, Harris. TUTH 3:30-4:50

same as YDSH 220, CWL 221

Course will introduce the great Jewish storytellers such as Nachman of Bratslav, Scholem-Aleichem, and I.B. Singer through readings of Yiddish tales, short stories, poetry, drama and excerpts from novels and autobiographies from the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition, Yiddish films and folklore will be used to exemplify the variety of Jewish cultural expression in Eastern Europe, Russia, and America. Course will also present a sample of critical approaches to Yiddish literature. Taught in English translation.


Group V

American and British poets including Frost, Robinson, Sandburg, Lindsay, Hardy, Hopkins, Housman, Yeats, Lawrence, the Imagists, and the early Pound and Eliot.

245 T THE SHORT STORY. TUTH 3:30-4:45

same as CWL 267

Historical and critical study of the short story (American and European) from the early nineteenth century to the present.

247 P THE BRITISH NOVEL, Hansen. TUTH 11-12:15

Group II or V

The course will explore the rise and fall of the British novel. By examining such themes as development, the marriage contract, innovation, and experimentation, we’ll observe how the novel first came into being in the United Kingdom. We’ll also study the diverse social, cultural, and psychic needs that the novel has served throughout its lifespan, and how it evolved into the dominant literary genre in the language.

Requirements for the course will include active class participation, a daily reading journal, two major exams and two 8-10 page essays.

Course Reading List: Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, Joseph Conrad’s Under Western Eyes, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artists as a Young Man, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, Graham Greene’s The Quiet American, Ian McEwan’s Atonement

250 Q THE AMERICAN NOVEL TO 1914, Bauer. TUTH 12:30-1:45

Group III or V

Focusing on social and cultural history, this class will read 8 novels as representative of major debates in 19th-century US culture: from classical and liberal democracy, to economic panics throughout the century, to gender debates, and to race and class relations before and after the Civil War. We will focus on close readings of these novels to chart the changes in styles, cultural values, and historical concerns. Requirements include 1-2 reports in class, two midterms, a paper, and a final exam.

Books for the course include Rebecca Rush’s Kelroy, Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno, Harriett Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, William Dean Howells’s The Rise of Silas Lapham, Henry James’s In The Cage, Pauline Hopkins’s Of One Blood, Frank Norris’s McTeague, and Edith Wharton’s Summer.


Group III or V

Critical study of selected American novels from 1914 to the present.

255 AL1 SURVEY OF AMERICAN LIT I, Loughran. Lect: MW 12; Disc: F various times

The purpose of this course is to introduce you to American literature written before the Civil War and to assure that you have basic cultural literacy about terms, ideas, and events that will help you when you enroll in upper level literature courses. Our focus will be fourfold, encompassing specific literary forms, major literary movements, major historical events and problems, and finally the general history of intellectual ideas in this period. We will get at these problems by thinking broadly about “American culture” from its earliest iterations up until the crackup called the Civil War. By looking at a variety of visual and verbal texts—from paintings, engravings, and maps to slave narratives, novels, poems, autobiographies, essays, and pamphlets—we will try to get to know this culture both through its parts (its poems, essays, and stories) and through our own cohesive reconstruction of these parts into an integrated whole—a story, which we will call, in our class, “American Literature, Part I.” This is a course that will thus introduce you not just to the basic facts of American cultural history but that will challenge you to theorize the very practice of “literary history”—which is, in fact, a very special kind of storytelling that we practice in English departments.

Along the way, our readings will range from the short to the long, from the conventional to the idiosyncratic, from commercial blockbusters to very big flops. The syllabus represents authors of different genders, classes, races, and regions, but the course is less devoted to giving equal representation to authors of different backgrounds than to thinking about how representation works to create conditions of inclusion and exclusion across American culture. The “canon” we call “American literature” only exists as a master narrative because of its tendency to include some and to exclude others. This produces an intellectual dilemma for surveyors like ourselves because we cannot reconstruct that which was never allowed to exist nor can any reader ever read everything a culture produces. We can’t fix this problem in an undergraduate survey class, but it is something I invite you to discuss and think about over the course of the semester.

Required texts will include the Norton Anthology of American Literature (Package One: Volumes A and B) and a course packet.


Group III

This class will survey the emergence of a print market in which the practice of writing was increasingly professionalized, but in which the profession of authorship was available to a wider and broader section of the population than ever before. Focusing on the business of print, and the role of literature in the lived experience of everyday life throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, we will cover the major literary and intellectual currents of the period, including the rise of industrialization and imperialism, the shifting relationship between the country and the city, and the role of racial, ethnic, and sexual difference in reshaping how Americans understood the nation, the region, and the always elusive ideal of “community.”

This class will use The Heath Anthology of American Literature Volume II (4th edition)


Group III or V

same as AFRO 259, CWL 259

This course surveys African American literature from the antebellum slave narratives to the essays of W.E.B. DuBois. In this course, we look at individual writers in their historical and political contexts, but also, we focus on the spiritual and affective power of African American prose. More importantly, the literary and sociopolitical appeal of African American literature from these early periods has been continuously drawn upon by social movements of the last fifty years. Thus, through close readings of writers like Frederick Douglass, Charles Chesnutt, and Ida B. Wells in context, students in this course will come away with a solid background in early African American literature and culture as well as its myriad of influences on current discussions of social inequality in the U.S.

267 AL1 GRIMMS’ FAIRY TALES IN CONTEXT, Jenkins. Lect: MW 10; Disc: F various times

same as GER 250, CWL 250

Special attention is paid to the Grimms’ tales in terms of traditional narrative genres, elements of life in early modern Europe, and versions from Italy and France as well as Germany. Course is conducted in English.

268 AE1 THE HOLOCAUST IN CONTEXT, Tubb. Lect: MW 10; Disc: F various times

same as GER 260, CWL 271

This course examines cultural representations of the Holocaust in literature, film, and critical essays. It is not a course about the Holocaust per se, but about its representations. What this means is that a simple collection of facts for the sake of a convenient, summary explanation of what the Holocaust “is,” is not the point. During the course of the semester, we will study a number of cultural attempts to come to terms with something that eludes full comprehension. You will come to ask yourself how “understanding,” an act that we commonly perceive to be both illuminating and relieving, is transformed when straightforward meaning and legibility can no longer be taken for granted. Starting out with a discussion of contemporary memory culture in the US and Germany, the course introduces students to the historical context of the Third Reich, the Holocaust, and the Second Word War. We then turn to a variety of postwar texts, including memoirs, poems, essays, memorials, documentary and feature film, to explore how Jewish and non-Jewish writers have dealt with issues of perpetration, survival, trauma, and memory in postwar German culture and beyond

273 T AMERICAN CINEMA SINCE 1950, T. Newcomb. Lect: TUTH 3:30-4:45; Screening: M 3-5:30

Group III or V

same as MACS 273

Explores American cinema from 1950 to the present, focusing on key issues in film studies (such as authorship, genre, narratology, film style, gender analysis, and the spectacle of violence), contextualized within moments of major transition in the American film industry. In recent semesters units have included “Hitchcock in American Culture,” “The New Hollywood,” and “Hollywood in a Global Context.” Viewing and discussion of one film each week.


TOPIC: Critical Memory

This course will consider literature at the nexus of memory and history, texts that recount a past at once verifiable and that the same time spectral. Memory involves searching (anamnesis) and being found (mneme) or haunted. Each instance—searching and haunting—can become a critical act that opens space for questioning received tradition, whether historical, political, or literary. We can readily find instances of critical memory that challenge the content or voice of historical record: telling stories that have been erased from history or telling familiar stories through voices that have been silenced. We see it in slave narrative accounts of “American slavery as it is” and in novels that imagine scenes inaccessible through traditional archives. Beyond the content of critical memory, however, we will explore how writers experiment with form and style to challenge how we think about memory and organize our understanding of the past. What happens, for instance, when the narrative shifts our frame of reference from a linear timeline to a nonlinear one that juxtaposes events in eighteenth-century England, colonial South Africa, and twentieth-century Philadelphia or when the past takes a protagonist captive in order to save the future? We will read a variety of texts from American and African American literary traditions, including slave narratives, scientific treatises, historical romance, gothic fiction, sci-fi and speculative fiction, poetry and films. While this course will think about critical memory across many traditions, we will build up reading slavery in the U.S. as a problem of memory and forgetting.

Texts for the course may include: Phillis Wheatley; Nathaniel Hawthorne; Washington Irving; Harriet Jacobs, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl; Octavia Butler, Kindred; John Edgar Wideman, The Cattle Killing; Leslie Morman Silko, Ceremony; Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake; Toni Morrison, Beloved.

275 AE1 AM INDIAN AND INDIGENOUS FILM, Diaz. Lect: MW 10; Screening: TU 2-4:20

Group III or V

same as AIS 275, MACS 275

Introduction to representations of American Indians and Indigenous peoples in film. Reconstructions of American Indians within the Western genre and more recent reconstructions by Native filmmakers will be considered. Other topics may include the development of an indigenous aesthetic; the role of documentaries and nonfiction films in the history of Native and Indigenous film; the role of commerce in the production of Native films.

280 X WOMEN WRITERS, I. Baron. MWF 12

Group V

same as GWS 280

TOPIC: The Female Artist in Anglo Literatures

For most of Western history women served as the inspiration and subject matter of great works of art, rather than being directly involved in the creation of these works. In England, women undermined this stranglehold of gender hegemony from time to time, writing poetry, painting, playing music and moving onto the stage. But it was not until the advent of the novel that women achieved recognition in England and its colonies as artists in their own right and began to explore the function of women and art through their fiction.

In this course, we will study the genesis of the female artist in Anglo literatures over a two hundred year period. We’ll examine how novels frequently depicted women as self-determinant beings who could live independent lives off the labors of their creative endeavors, and as helpless domestic angels who were too delicate and fragile to consider any occupation that involved the marketplace of the imagination, often in the same piece. We’ll explore the lives of those women on both sides of the Atlantic who refused to be subjugated inside the home as decorative objects and who instead used art as the mouthpiece for feminist insurrection. We’ll focus on the impact that race and class have on women and their art, and on novels in which women have gained sociopolitical rights, but still compete in a phallocentric artistic paradigm as second-class citizens. And finally, we’ll discuss whether art is by nature a gendered act, or whether art is the byproduct of a creative genius that defies cultural notions of gender assignment altogether.

Students should be prepared to regularly attend class and are expected to actively contribute to class discussions. Students will be required to write three short papers and to take a final exam. The following books/films may be included: Northanger Abbey, The Scarlet Letter, The Forsyte Saga, The Awakening, My Brilliant Career, To the Lighthouse, How To Make An American Quilt, The Reconstruction, Atonement.

280 M WOMEN WRITERS, Bauer. TUTH 9:30-10:45

Group III or V

same as GWS 280

TOPIC: U.S. Women Writers, 1910-2012

This course examines 20th- and 21st-century US women’s writing in a variety of forms, and our emphasis will be on conceptions of cultural and literary style. We will focus on how literary works are simultaneously products of one author’s imagination and also participate in a set of historical norms, shaped by the cultural anxieties to which the author, in turn, responds; at the same time, we will define the vision of gender and history animating these works.

We will start with women’s writing in the 1910s and move, decade by decade, into the present. Thus, this class will take a historical and cultural approach to US women’s writing, as well as illuminating various literary methodologies. The reading list will include canonical and noncanonical readings from various genres—poetry, memoir, romance, comedy, radical and conservative novels—in order to demonstrate both formal and thematic concerns in representative women’s texts.

284 S MODERN JEWISH LIT, Kaplan. TUTH 2-3:20

same as CWL 284, RLST 284

Modern Jewish literature is varied, complex, and fascinating. The goals of this course are to introduce students to a broad array of Jewish writing and history, to help students hone their analytical skills, and to guide students toward the understanding of cultural difference that is crucial for all of today’s professions. Reading diverse literatures teaches participants about the rich variety of history, politics, art, and culture that graces our planet. Some of the works we will read in this course may be familiar and others may introduce students to new and exciting worlds they did not know were there. This is a discussion based course, so participants will have ample opportunity to express their ideas and talk to their peers. While the curriculum gives students a solid grounding in Jewish literature the course encourages participants to relate what they learn to conversations with their friends and parents about some of the central concerns of our time from war to racism to resistance to forgiveness.


Group II or V

As one critic has recently put it, “Although there is considerable debate about the exact parameters of the field and even the definition of the term ‘postcolonial,’ in a very general sense, it refers to the interactions between European nations and the societies they colonized in the modern period.” These interactions were violent, sometimes grotesquely funny, always shifting, and above all, transformative for both sides – colonizer and colonized. This is why we begin our course with a text that despite having been authored by perhaps the most representative literary figure of the Western world expresses a distinctly uneasy relationship with the colonial encounter. This text will function as our entry point into a host of other writings composed in the wake of mid-twentieth century liberation struggles across the globe. At this time, many writers from what used to be called ‘the third-world’ began to give expression to their cultural experiences in the language of the former colonial power. Given that it is called Postcolonial Literature in English, it is the language of the former colonial power that will be significant for our readings in this course. We will strive to understand what forms such a language takes as it attempts to carry the weight of diverse realities, as it negotiates the taut relations between class, gender, racial and religious identities, and as it shapes and reshapes itself in the midst of changing social institutions, lifestyles, and habits.


Group III or V

same as AAS 286

This course offers an understanding of the historical emergence of Asian American literature in the twentieth century. It examines the ways in which U. S. relations with Asia over the last century in the contexts of colonialism, semi-colonialism, immigration, and war have shaped representations of Asia and Asians in the United States. This course examines the liminal position of Asians in a national imaginary defined by binary black-white relations, the ways in which Asians have been positioned as invisible minorities, model minorities, and perpetual aliens. How has this paradoxical position as model minority and yellow peril impacted representations of gender, race, and sexuality in Asian American literature? How does Asian American literature offer new perspectives and understandings of race and Americanness in the twentieth century? While the course offers a historical context for reading literature, the focus will be on literary representation—what genres and forms have defined the emergence of Asian American writing; what narrative strategies do Asian American writers adopt in translating their stories to audiences of “insiders” and “outsiders;” what is the relationship between art and politics in minority writing? Some of the recurring themes that appear in Asian American writing are the contradictions of patriotism, intergenerational conflict or transgenerational haunting, the paradoxes of visibility and invisibility; the impossibility of assimilation; the recovery of lost histories; and the intersection of racial and sexual stereotypes.


Group III or V

TOPIC: From a Simple Life to City Lights

Why is living in a rural area simple and a Metropolis sophisticated? When city folks look at country folks and vice versa how do they view one another in terms of music, religion, and other aspects of culture? Black writers from the U.S. such as Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Ann Petry wrote fabulous novels that capture the pleasures and pitfalls of country life and urban conflict. With the country and the city in African American texts as our theme, we will explore and analyze how both geographies project fantasies and reveal the hard facts of social life. In addition to reading within this rubric, we will focus on how to make better arguments and refine prose writing while paying special attention to interesting historical artifacts and new media aesthetics. It is strongly recommended that all English and Teaching of English majors take ENGL 300 and ENGL 301 BEFORE taking any other 300- or 400-level courses.


Group III or V

TOPIC: New Racial Subjectivities in Contemporary American Fiction

The movements of people, capital, and information across national boundaries, propelled by globalization, has produced new subjectivities and collectivities. Deindustrialization, cross-border flows, and technological innovation have transformed understandings of the self and of communities of belonging. This class looks at the emergence of new racial subjectivities in the context of these larger social and historical transformations. How are these new racial subjectivities connected to forms of racial empowerment and subjection that define the post-civil rights and post-9/11 period? Some of the novels and stories we will look at include Chang-rae Lee, Native Speaker, Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, William Gibson, Pattern Recognition, Colson Whitehead, The Intutionist, Octavia Butler, The Parable of the Sower, Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, and Don De Lillo, Cosmopolis. It is strongly recommended that all English and Teaching of English majors take ENGL 300 and ENGL 301 BEFORE taking any other 300- or 400-level courses.

300 Q WRITING ABOUT LITERATURE, Mohamed. TUTH 12:30-1:45

Group IV

TOPIC: Writing Controversy

Every age, it seems, perceives itself as one where public debate is lamentably uncivil. In his Second Defense, Milton triumphs over the death of his political opponent Salmasius, claiming to have met him in single combat and plunged a pen into his “reviling throat.” How tame our own age of verbal warfare seems by comparison. Referring along the way to Milton’s interventions in a period of civil war and political turmoil, we shall explore in this course some of the strategies of writing controversy: forming verbal alliances of convenience, attacking opponents, crafting a rhetorically effective self-image, and seizing the moral ground. And we shall structure our inquiry into verbal battle and persuasion around Cicero’s seminal Orator—an indispensable text for anyone with an interest in journalism or Law.

Much as the tactics of rhetoric have not changed a great deal since the age of Cicero, the media in which we express our arguments have changed. Students will be encouraged to enter the lists of battle in such contemporary fora as blogs and tweets. They shall also be guided in how to cultivate their own journalistic interests and how to find a readership in the blogosphere—a topic on which the professor has some knowledge as a columnist for Dissent Magazine and The Huffington Post.

It is strongly recommended that all English and Teaching of English majors take ENGL 300 and ENGL 301 BEFORE taking any other 300- or 400-level courses.


Group I or V

TOPIC: Economic Subjects

This course will serve two primary curricular goals: 1) to immerse ourselves in the literature and culture of late seventeenth- and earlier eighteenth-century England, to understand how and why personal identity came to be conceived in primarily economic terms during this period—not “I think, therefore I am,” as Descartes would have it, but “I gain and spend, therefore I am,” as perhaps we still have it in our pervasively consumerist culture; and 2) to spend a lot of time thinking and writing (and revising our writing) about literary and cultural texts: how can you most effectively construct persuasive arguments about the kinds of texts you will routinely encounter in upper-division English courses?

To achieve the first of these goals, we’ll read a wide range of texts from the 1660s to the 1740s that celebrate and/or worry over the rise of the “economic subject” in English culture—this course will reveal how economic behavior gets implicated in the construction of virtually every facet of personal identity in the period, from gender and sexuality to nation and ethnicity. Texts may include works by Hobbes, Behn, Congreve, Etherege, Rochester, Barbon, Locke, Mandeville, Manley, Addison, Steele, Pope, Defoe, Swift, Montagu, Haywood, and Lillo. Our work toward the second goal—writing—will be comprehensive: we will develop precise close readings of particular textual passages; we will discuss strategies for building complex arguments from these detailed readings; and we will come to understand writing as a necessarily recursive process through assignments focused on both stylistic and analytical revision. Finally, we will work on research methods: how do you figure out where the current scholarly conversation stands on a number of different topics in the field, and what does it mean to engage productively with materials from the historical context and the work of other critics?

Requirements: regular participation, short responses and presentations, at least two shorter essays, and one longer seminar paper that will involve individualized historical research and readings in criticism and theory. It is strongly recommended that all English and Teaching of English majors take ENGL 300 and ENGL 301 BEFORE taking any other 300- or 400-level courses.


This course will examine the major theoretical and methodological approaches to literary and cultural studies that have evolved over the last few decades. Our readings will include some of the foundational texts of structuralism, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer theory, minority discourse theory, and post-colonial studies. While we consider how these theoretical approaches have reconfigured the goals and methods of literary studies, and we will also critically assess their ideological agendas and practical implications. Finally, we will determine how best to use and engage with theory in our own writing and research as we test their applications to several short works of literature. It is strongly recommended that all English and Teaching of English majors take ENGL 300 and ENGL 301 BEFORE taking any other 300- or 400-level courses.


“How to Interpret Literature: An Introduction to Contemporary Critical Theory.” This course is required for English literature majors and is best not delayed for too long. Seniors usually regret not taking it sooner. Literature students write, think, and speak literary criticism, and this course sets out to make that process more interesting and—eventually—more fun. In the last half century, critics have repeatedly reinvented literary and cultural criticism in ways that can deeply influence how we interpret what we read and how we understand our daily lives. We will study such critical movements as new criticism, structuralism and narratology, deconstruction and poststructuralism, psychoanalysis, feminism, queer studies, Marxism, new historicism, cultural studies, critical race theory, postcolonial studies, and reader response. This course prepares students for future literature classes, and more to the point, it helps us understand and question the entire project of critical thinking and reading. Attendance will be crucial, for we learn these concepts both by reading and by working with the concepts together. Class time will focus on discussion and more discussion, not on lecture. Each student will write multiple short papers and make multiple class presentations. If you like to stay silent in class and do not want to make class presentations, don’t take this section. Readings will include How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies (2nd edition, 2011) and Critical Theory: A Reader for Literary and Cultural Studies (2012). It is strongly recommended that all English and Teaching of English majors take ENGL 300 and ENGL 301 BEFORE taking any other 300- or 400-level courses.


Theory: the final frontier. At least that’s how many U of I English majors seem to feel! In this course, we will survey major developments in the history of thinking hard from the eighteenth century to today. Along the way, we will ask a series of interrelated questions about the rise of Western reason that theory both performs and critiques. For example: Was the rise of Enlightenment thinking emancipatory or repressive? How did such patterns of thinking emerge alongside material developments like early capitalism and empire? Are aesthetics essentially a-political or does art participate (for good or ill) in the world of politics and power? Can historicism serve as a corrective to the gross inequities of our world, or is it a Trojan horse left behind amongst the other wreckage of the Enlightenment? And what does any of this have to do with reading sonnets, plays, and novels?

Major players in this story are likely to include Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud, Benjamin, Horkheimer, Adorno Lukacs, Barthes, Derrida, Foucault, Habermas, Butler, Sedgwick, Said, and the great and inscrutable Gayatri Spivak. As in any theory course, a number of major -ISMs (and their relatives) will appear regularly on the docket—including materialism, historicism, structuralism (and its posts-), queer theory, and postcolonialism. But to cope with the vertigo an ISM always produces, we will generally read short, iconic selections, thinking for the most part in broad strokes, with a few full texts interspersed for depth and texture. And we will find a way to work through this material that: a) makes sense, b) challenges you, and c) does not put any of us to sleep (or drive us mad). This is, in short, an introduction to the history of such ideas, and any lively, alert, game young reader will be able to keep up. It is strongly recommended that all English and Teaching of English majors take ENGL 300 and ENGL 301 BEFORE taking any other 300- or 400-level courses.


This course will introduce students to the various issues and debates central to contemporary literary studies. If you have ever wondered why people interpret certain texts, and even certain events and actions, as they do, then this is the course for you. The class will begin by exploring the ways in which three profoundly different thinkers, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud, introduced a peculiarly suspicious form of reading, a way of interrogating texts and the world that looks beneath the surface and doubts that what you see is what you get. We will go on to explore how literary critics in the 20th century worked to map this Modern “hermeneutic of suspicion” onto political, psychological, and philosophical issues that still have an effect on us today. Finally, the course will engage with literature’s relationship to questions of sexual and racial difference, of power, and of technology. Requirements will include active class-participation, weekly journal entries, two short papers, and two exams.

Texts will include Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams, Marx’s The Communist Manifesto, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals and a Course Packet with essays by critics in the Gender, psychoanalytic, Marxist, and Post-Structuralist traditions. It is strongly recommended that all English and Teaching of English majors take ENGL 300 and ENGL 301 BEFORE taking any other 300- or 400-level courses.


Group V

same as YDSH 320, CWL 320, RLST 320

Course introduces a variety of Jewish literary responses to the Holocaust written during and after the Second World War (from 1939). The discussion of Holocaust memoirs, diaries, novels, short stories, poems, and other texts will focus on the unique contribution of literary works to our understanding of the Holocaust. In addition, the works and their authors will be situated in their Jewish cultural historical context. Taught in English translation.


Group V

same as MACS 373

TOPIC: Film, Style, Politics, and You

Style is often dismissed as an empty and vain aspect of art—people say, “all style and no substance,” for example—so the central goal of this course is to suggest that style has a substantial effect on our experience of films, on the kinds of stories films tell, and on the way that those stories are told.

While the narrative aspects of fiction films (character, plot, setting in time and space; narration, focalization, etc.) remain important sources of pleasure for audiences, films are more than novels with pictures. Even if we may not be aware of it, decisions about cinematography, editing, mise-en-scène, and sound affect us. Simply put: How we look at films is determined by how films look. One primary goal of this course, therefore, is to deepen your understanding of the various cinematic tools used in film storytelling and of how film scholars categorize and analyze them.

We will discuss the choices that filmmakers have made and how those choices reflect three primary influences: institutional practices, political aims, and conceptions of the relationship between film and its spectators. Thus, a second important goal of this course is to help you to be more aware of ways in which filmmakers invite us to participate in the experience that they have created for us.

Evaluated work will include regular attendance, including film screenings; four medium-length papers; oral presentations; and active participation in class discussion.

Courses numbered 396, 397, and 398 are honors seminars. English majors with an overall GPA of 3.33 or greater are eligible to enroll in the honors program. See Maureen Airsman in EB200 for more information about the program, or to register for a seminar.

397 B HONORS SEMINAR II, Michelson. MW 9:30-10:45

Group III or V

TOPIC: American Literature and the Sciences of the Mind

This is a course about cultural response. It explores the impact—on novelists, poets, playwrights, critics, screen-writers and directors, game-designers—of various powerful theories of consciousness, the brain, and the mind. This cannot be a course in neuroscience; our focus is on modern American literature and culture as it feels the impact of these developments, as science, pop-psychology, myth. Beginning around the year 1800, we will review a sequence of influential ideas about the mind and the self, moving towards to the present moment. We will consider how these formulations echo in what we read, and see, and collectively imagine, and assume to be true about who and what we are. We will also discuss how the current revolution in neuroscience may challenge and change the practice of literary criticism—in other words, our understanding of writing and reading as imaginative and cognitive practices. At the end of the course we will move into wilder territory, looking at expository and imaginative writing by contemporary researchers at the center of the neuroscience revolution; responses by humanists and culture-critics in light of these new formulations; novels, films, and television series that explore (or exploit) the implications of these new ways of constructing, defining, reducing, or replicating identity—philosophical, spiritual, electronic, chemical, mechanical, or all of the above. Students will write a sequence of short essays responding to specific assignments, and develop a longer speculative essay in three stages in consultation with each other and with me. Texts will include work by William and Henry James, Charlotte Gilman, Kate Chopin, DH Lawrence, Ralph Ellison, Ken Kesey, Richard Powers, Antonio Damasio, Daniel Dennett, Ian McGilchrist, Dan Lloyd, Ronald D. Moore, Joss Whedon, and Christopher Nolan. There will also be a mid-term examination and a final examination.

397 D HONORS SEMINAR II, Mahaffey. W 11-12:50

Group II or V

TOPIC: The Yeats Era

The career of William Butler Yeats extended across four decades, during which he wrote poetry, plays, short stories, essays, and a philosophy of history and personality. In this course, we will try to understand the period of early twentieth-century Irish literature through Yeats. If you aren’t already a proficient reader of poetry, you will become one, and you will also have the opportunity to trace the beginnings of the Irish National Theater (the Abbey). You will learn about Irish mythology and Irish history, all through the lens of poems and plays designed to operate like an articulate and in some cases stylized music.

Requirements include an oral report, an explication of a single poem, a longer analytical longer essay, and a final more creative project.

398 P HONORS SEMINAR III, Pollock. TU 11-12:50

Group IV

TOPIC: Eliza Haywood and Enlightenment Feminism(s)

This course will focus on the major writings produced by one of the most widely-read women writers in eighteenth-century England, with the primary goal of understanding the different forms that early feminist discourse could take: what would it have meant to be a “feminist” in the generations after the Glorious Revolution (1689), when the potentially egalitarian political ideals of Locke (and others) suggested that personal industry and merit should enable any person to rise in the world, and when the official end of censorship made it possible for more and more writers to publish and to engage in socially consequential public debate? To give ourselves a broader sense of the cultural contexts within which Eliza Haywood developed her influential perspective on England’s gender system, we’ll begin by reading some of the works of Mary Astell (often referred to as England’s “first feminist”) against the popular tradition of paternalistic conduct-books and essay-periodicals from the 1680s to the 1710s. The second section of the course will situate Haywood’s subversive periodicals and her amatory fictions in relation both to Astell’s work and to Samuel Richardson’s moral-realist fiction of the 1740s. Finally, the third section of the course will read the influence of Haywood and Astell into the work of Mary Wollstonecraft (in the 1790s), with some reference to the gender theories of male writers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Edmund Burke. Requirements: regular participation, informal journal responses, short presentations, two short essays, and one longer seminar paper.


same as BTW 402

This is a course in English linguistics. We will study the English language: how we use it; how it uses us. We will learn and practice techniques for describing English, both its words and sentences and larger elements of discourse in context. We will look at the social, historical, and political forces that shape language and its use. And we will suggest ways to use what we learn about language both in the classroom and in the professional world.

TEXT: Curzan, Anne, and Michael Adams, How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction. 2nd ed., New York: Pearson.


Group V

Language variation and change from the earliest forms of English to the present day, with emphasis on the rise of Standard English and the social, geographic, and cultural aspects of linguistic change in English.


same as EIL 422

Adaptation of modern English grammar to meet the needs of the ESL/EFL teacher, with special emphasis on the development of knowledge and skills that can be used in the analysis of the syntax, lexis and pragmatics of English.

407 1U/1G INTRO TO OLD ENGLISH, C. Wright. MWF 1

Group I or V

same as MDVL 407

this pure contemplation / of a language of the dawn

—Jorge Luis Borges, “On Embarking on the Study of the Anglo-Saxon Language”

In this course you will learn to read Old English prose and poetry in the original language, which was spoken by the Anglo-Saxon inhabitants of England from the sixth through eleventh centuries. This was the native language of Caedmon, who wrote the earliest surviving English poem (“Cædmon’s Hymn”); of King Alfred, who prevented the Vikings from conquering England, and who then undertook a revival of learning by translating into English “those books which it is most necessary for all to know”; of the anonymous author of Beowulf, who memorialized a Germanic hero’s battles with a man-eating monster, his vengeful mother (the monster’s, that is), and a dragon; and of abbot Ælfric and archbishop Wulfstan, who preached in English for those who could not understand Latin, the official language of the medieval church.

We will begin with some easy prose readings (the story of Adam and Eve from Genesis, and a school dialogue about Anglo-Saxon “career choices”), and as you gradually master the basics of Old English grammar we will work our way up to more challenging narrative prose such as Bede’s story of Cædmon’s miraculous transformation from cowherd to poet; King Alfred’s government “white paper” on education reform; and Ælfric’s story of the martyrdom of King Edmund, decapitated by Viking invaders. Then in the second half of the semester we will read some of the finest shorter Old English poems, including The Wanderer and The Seafarer, two elegiac poems of exile; The Battle of Maldon, about the heroic defeat of an English army by the Vikings; The Dream of the Rood, a mystical vision of the Crucifixion, as told by the Cross; and The Wife’s Lament, about a woman abandoned by her former lover, as told by the woman.

For graduate students the course is 4 hours credit and will involve an additional hourly meeting per week (time and place to be arranged).

411 1U/1G CHAUCER, M. Camargo. MWF 12

Group IV

same as MDVL 411

We will read and discuss the General Prologue and a dozen of the narratives that make up Geoffrey Chaucer’s last major work, the Canterbury Tales. Our goal will be to appreciate Chaucer’s language, his poetic innovations, the literary traditions within and against which he wrote, and the ideological tensions that defined the world in which he lived. Topics that will be emphasized in class discussions include Chaucer’s experiments with genre, characterization, and narrative voice; the lively debates he stages around gender and sexuality, power and social status, and the moral responsibilities of poets; and the complex interplay of courtly and intellectual ideologies that shapes his identity as a writer in fourteenth-century England. In addition to a research paper and a final examination, graded work will include short written responses to discussion questions and occasional quizzes and microthemes.

418 1U/1G SHAKESPEARE, Mohamed. TUTH 3:30-4:45

Shakespeare Requirement

This course will cover Shakespeare’s plays and poems. We will especially examine the generic complexities of the ‘problem comedies’ and of such major tragedies as Othello and King Lear; and the political and cultural climates of performance affecting the plays, both in early modern England and beyond Shakespeare’s time and place. The ability of plays both to reflect and challenge the expectations of their cultural milieux is evinced in Paul Robeson’s black Othello of 1930 London, or director Vishal Bharadwaj’s ‘half-caste’ Othello figure in the Bollywood film Omkara. What do we make of Lear’s three daughters become sons, and samurai, in the Japanese film Ran? Or Wole Soyinka’s transformation of Macbeth into a satire on African despots in King Baabu? These interpretations not only take Shakespeare in new directions, but also invite us to reconsider elements of the original that might initially go unnoticed.

Students should expect to spend significant time reading material, especially if they are unfamiliar with Shakespeare’s English

418 2U/2G SHAKESPEARE, L. Newcomb. TUTH 11-12:15

Shakespeare Requirement

This course explores seven Shakespearean plays from a cross-section of dramatic genres. We’ll look especially at the features that made these plays popular in their day: their open staging, their playful language, their laying bare of the period’s familial, national, gender, and racial tensions. But we’ll also find that the cultural significance of ‘Shakespeare’ accumulated through the plays’ later lives, thanks to their continuous, often resistant, reinventions by performers, literary critics, and adapters world-wide. That constant reinvention demands that we, too, employ multiple interpretive practices to continue opening up the plays: close reading; informal staging; film analysis; feminist, historicist, postcolonial, and queer studies critical approaches. Be ready for proactive discussion, performance experiments, and rigorous written work, including informal journals, a response to at least one on-campus Shakespeare production, two focused short papers, a longer paper using guided research (7-9 pp.), and a final exam.

TEXTS: (Required) Greenblatt et al, eds., The Norton Shakespeare (1st or 2nd edition); McDonald, ed., Bedford Companion to Shakespeare (2nd edition); one contextual edition of a play TBA.

418 3U/3G SHAKESPEARE, Stevens. MWF 10

Shakespeare Requirement

With the help of critical readings drawing from queer theory, feminist theory, and performance theory, we’ll consider the exciting and sometimes dangerous mobility of gender, identity, and erotic desire in seven of Shakespeare’s plays (and one play written by his contemporary, Ben Jonson). We’ll probably begin with The Taming of the Shrew and Midsummer Night’s Dream, and then move on to three comedies that feature the convention of the cross-dressed heroine: The Merchant of Venice; As You Like It; and Twelfth Night. Next, we’ll consider Jonson’s ingenious twist on this convention in his comedy Epicoene, and conclude by asking how “masculinity” is achieved and maintained, won and lost, in the tragedies Macbeth and Coriolanus.

Even as we pay attention to the range of subject positions, social relationships, and affective connections these plays imagine, we will endeavor to situate Shakespeare within his own theatrical context, reminding ourselves that these plays originated as scripts for performance that were conceived and produced under specific material conditions and in light of specific “original practices” that we will come to understand as the course progresses. Nor will we neglect the afterlives of these plays, noting how Shakespeare consistently gets reinvented by successive generations.

The class will be conducted as a discussion. Evaluation will be based on participation, including a willingness to read lines out loud and block scenes in class; clear and committed engagement to keeping up with the secondary readings; one group performance project; one final examination; and three short written assignments. This course assumes no prior college-level study in Shakespeare, but English 200 (or 101 and 102) is prerequisite; it is also strongly recommended that you take ENGL 301(“Critical Approaches to Lit”) before taking this class.

TEXTS: Any single edition of the play will do, although I will be ordering the Folger editions when available (TBA); one article packet (TBA).


Shakespeare Requirement

English 418 is a survey of the plays and poems of William Shakespeare. Reading assignments will reflect the generic diversity and historical breadth of Shakespeare’s work.


Group II

The early decades of the nineteenth century were marked by what Lee Erickson has called a “poetry boom.” Publishers paid surprising sums for books of poetry, and poets became some of the most famous (or notorious) celebrities of the age. This course will pay some attention to the history of fiction (readings will include fiction by Jane Austen and Maria Edgeworth). But we will focus on poetry, striving both to appreciate the poetry of the British Romantic period and to understand the circumstances that gave poets a new kind of cultural authority. Authors will include Mary Wollstonecraft, William Wordsworth, S. T. Coleridge, John Keats, Lord Byron, Jane Austen, Felicia Hemans, and J. S. Mill. Weekly reading responses, two papers, and two exams.

435 1U/1G 19TH CENTURY BRITISH FICTION, Courtemanche. MWF 10

Group II or V

An optimistic note of progress is the keynote of many 19th-century novels: characters learn and grow, society works through conflict, secrets are uncovered. But in British fiction, this process of discovery and growth is often complicated by nostalgia and fears of loss. Sometimes the characters discover that what they were looking for was in front of them all along, or find they can never truly untangle the dark origins of the problems that entrap them. In this class, we’ll be focusing on this particular mixture of romance, Bildungsroman, the detective story, and Gothic historicism. Our readings will include Jane Austen’s Emma, Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness. These novels are tremendously fun to read, but also very long, so be prepared for a great deal of reading (both fiction and secondary criticism). The course will require one close-reading paper, one research paper, a midterm and final, weekly written assignments, and active class participation.

451 1U/1G AMERICAN LIT 1914-1945, Parker. MWF 10

Group III

This course will sample American poetry and fiction from between the world wars, closely studying a set of individual texts and their roles in literary and cultural tradition. Along the way, we will ponder literary responses to changing gender and race relations, to World War I, the roaring twenties, and the Great Depression. We will also consider the growth of modernism and its revolutions in literary form as well as the relation between experiments in literary form and the era’s social and political conservatisms and radicalisms. We will read work by some of the most celebrated writers in American literature—Ernest Hemingway (probably short stories), William Faulkner (The Sound and the Fury), and T. S. Eliot—as well as work by less canonized or more recently canonized writers, including poetry by Langston Hughes and a selection of Imagist poets, Nella Larsen’s Passing, Dorothy Parker’s short stories, Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, Tom Kromer’s Waiting for Nothing, and Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. (These writers and titles provide only a tentative list, but it gives a picture of the course-plan in progress.) This course offers you the chance to read one of the stunningly great but forbiddingly difficult works in American literature—The Sound and the Fury—in the helpful company of others working it through with you, but be prepared to work hard and read it twice, as it makes far more sense on a second reading. Take this course only if you plan to attend class regularly and join actively in class discussion. If you don’t want to speak in class, take a different course. Writing requirements will probably include several papers and a final exam.

455 1U/1G MAJOR AUTHORS, Spires. MWF 2

Group IV

TOPIC: Richard Wright: Texts and Contexts

This course uses Richard Wright’s (1908-1960) life and work as a guide for discussing literary technique, genre, media technologies, and forms of cultural criticism. We will pay particular attention to Wright’s (and our) reading of power (raced, classed, gendered, etc.) in the U.S. and the world. Beginning with “Blueprint for Negro Writing” and Uncle Tom’s Children we will discuss the role of the artist in society, Wright’s use of a Marxist analysis, and his theories about the vernacular culture. By mid-semester, we will have encountered multiple forms (prose fiction and nonfiction, poetry, film, and photography), leading to a larger conversation about cultural transformations in the U.S. between the Great Depression and the conclusion of World War II. We will conclude the semester with The Outsider and a discussion of Wright’s notion of a human right to “think and feel honestly” in the context of anti-colonialism. Aside from Richard Wright, we will read a sampling from contemporaries including Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Ann Petry, William Faulkner, and Ralph Ellison. We will also work through theoretical frameworks from critical race and gender studies, postcolonial studies, and documentary studies.

455 2U/2G MAJOR AUTHORS, Saville. TUTH 2-3:15

Group IV

TOPIC: Robert Browning (1812-1889)

This year, 2012, Robert Browning’s admirers will celebrate the bicentennial of his birth and this course aims to make life-long Robert Browning admirers of all who join it. Perhaps you already know a little of Browning from his weird dramatic monologues like “My Last Duchess” or “Porphyria’s Lover.” Perhaps, however, you aren’t aware that, rather than impose his own opinions on others, he uses this poetic form to animate various ethical and political dilemmas confronting the British public in the mid-nineteenth-century decades of political reform, overhaul of marriage laws, and widespread religious controversy. Thus Browning uses paired monologues to compare political commitments (“The Italian in England” and “The Englishman in Italy”), provocative lyrics like “Two on the Campagna” to question the viable co-existence of individual freedom and marriage, and edgy religious meditations or painter poems (“The Bishop Orders His Tomb in St Praxed’s Church” or “Fra Lippo Lippi”) to weigh the possibility of balancing spiritual with sensual well-being. Only rarely does he speak in his own voice and then it is usually to reciprocate his wife’s love poems with declarations of his own like “One Word More” or “Amphibian.” These are some of the topics we’ll study as we read Browning’s poetry with accompanying selections from current Browning criticism and contemporary critical theorists such as Amanda Anderson, Kwame Anthony Appiah, and Iris Marion Young.

455 A3/A4 MAJOR AUTHORS, Kaplan. TUTH 12:30-1:50

Group IV

meets with CWL 461

TOPIC: Philip Roth and Michael Chabon

This course explores two major contemporary—and sometimes controversial—Jewish writers from different generations whose energetic and diverse works enliven American literature. As the former young upstart who is now one of the grandfathers of the American literary scene Roth’s career (including now almost 30 novels!) has charted changes in the U.S. from 1959 until the present; the topics of these works include fantastical alternative histories, slams against too politically correct academe, domestic terrorism, fanatics in Israel, baseball, boxing, and passing. Chabon’s texts have become very popular as his explorations into comic books and their intersections with Jewish American history and his construction of an alternate reality wherein Alaska becomes a Jewish homeland struck a chord with contemporary readers. While we won’t be able to read all the works of these prolific writers we will cover some of the highlights and situate the major themes historically. Content warning: some of these novels contain raunchiness and raw language; please don’t take this course if you are easily offended by such things!

455 S MAJOR AUTHORS, Stenport.

meets with SCAN 464, CWL 464, THEA 484

TOPIC: Strindberg in Translation

Swedish icon August Strindberg (1849-1912) has been both praised and reviled during the last century—some have called him a demented woman-hater, others have lauded him as the father of modern drama, while a few have chosen to see him as a modern esoteric.

Regardless of label, Strindberg’s impact on Western literature and art is indisputable. In this course you will explore the scope of these contributions from comparative and international perspectives. These highlight an idiosyncratic and fascinating production, evident in unique articulations of naturalist and psychological drama, painting and photography, and forays into expressionism and surrealism. Strindberg’s influence on English-language drama will be emphasized; readings by Beckett, Albee, O'Neill or Sarah Kane included.

Celebrating a centenary commemoration of August Strindberg’s in 2012, this course is offered in conjunction with several high-profile Strindberg events during fall 2012. These include a Krannert Center for the Arts Production of A Dream Play and numerous guest lectures and workshops by international and US experts on Strindberg, art, performance, and modern drama. All readings and assignments in English. The course is open to advanced undergraduate and graduate students.

460 U3/G4 LIT OF AMERICAN MINORITIES, Hassan. M 3-4:50

Group III or V

meets with CWL 471

TOPIC: Arabs and the New World

Twelfth-century geographer al-Idrisi reported that eight Arabs sailed west from Lisbon to discover what lay beyond the “Sea of Darkness” (the Atlantic ocean), and arrived somewhere in South America. Columbus reportedly had a copy of al-Idrisi’s book with him when he embarked on his first voyage in 1492, and he took with him Louis de Torre, a converted Moor, to act as an Arabic interpreter once the expedition reached India. Some of the earliest slave narratives were written in Arabic by literate Muslim captives from West Africa. However, large-scale Arab immigration to the Americas did not begin until the nineteenth century, and since then those immigrants and their descendants have participated in a substantial, though little known, tradition of minority literature.

This course will focus on Arab-American literature, and Arab literary and cultural relations with the Americas more generally, within the emergent paradigms of inter-American literature and hemispheric studies. We will discuss recent scholarship on the globalization of U.S. American studies and its interface with Latin American studies and Arabic studies. We will then read a selection of literary works by and about Arab immigrants and their descendants throughout the Americas.

461 1U/1G TOPICS IN LITERATURE, Murison. TUTH 2-3:15

Group III or V

TOPIC: The Literature and Culture of the Civil War

“The real war will never get in the books,” Walt Whitman regretfully declared after the Civil War ended. While bemoaning the sentimental “mush” so often dished out after a war, Whitman also asks a broader question about whether literature (or any cultural medium) can ever fully represent the realities of war. This class will test Whitman’s premise by returning to the literature produced during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Civil War literature challenges certain accepted stories we tell about national literature and the nation more largely. What happened to the romance and transcendentalism of the antebellum writers in the crucible of war? How did forms like lyric poetry and the novel change to accommodate responses to the first modern war? Can we even categorize this literature, especially the literature of the Confederacy, as “American literature”? These questions and many more will shape our inquiries over the course of the semester. We will read literature by and about army officers, fugitive slaves, Confederate women, Union nurses, carpetbaggers, and spies, among many other perspectives. We will also become more attuned to the uses that Civil War historical memory has been put to across the last 150 years. As April 12, 2011 marked the sesquicentennial of the beginning of the Civil War, this is an apt time to revisit the era and read this “unwritten war.” Authors may include Walt Whitman, Louisa May Alcott, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Wells Brown, Augusta Jane Evans, and John De Forest. We may also view films and read literature from a few key eras in which the history of the Civil War solidified in American culture, including the historical fiction of the 1890s, the Hollywood construction of the Old South, and Ken Burns’s 1990 Civil War documentary. No prior knowledge of Civil War history is required.


Group II or V

TOPIC: Nostalgia and National Memory in Contemporary British Literature

For many British citizens, despite the hardships and loss of life, World War II remains a bright and shining Camelot moment framing an indelible image of an egalitarian modern state based on the ideals of English democracy and human rights. But how just how accurate is this memory of an untarnished Britain in which all citizens united together to maintain a utopian political entity?

In this course, we’ll examine why so much British literature produced in the last twenty years focuses on a nostalgic recollection of the mid to late twentieth century, and how valid both individual and collective memory is in creating a cohesive national model of class, gender and racial relations before and after the war. We’ll examine the years preceding the rise of fascism in Europe and what kind of society Britains actually inhabited before the Welfare State was created from the ashes of the Blitz, when the great country houses populated by aristocrats and their servants were at the epicenter of the culture. We’ll also see how the Welfare State has fared for those of its members who pride themselves on their working class urban identities, diverse ethnicities and gender distinctiveness. By reading the literature of last two decades, we’ll determine whether British citizens have prospered from more inclusive policies on sex, class and race through education and healthcare, or whether socialism has forced Britain to lose its edge in the world market, which it is now trying to recapture by a renewal of political platforms based on social conservatism, capitalist enterprise and racial purity.

Students are expected to attend class regularly and to actively participate in class discussions. In addition, students will be required to give oral reports and to write three papers and take a final exam. Novels and films may include: The King’s Speech, The Remains of the Day, Atonement, Trainspotting, Once Upon a Time in England, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, The Half Blood Prince, The Golden Compass, About a Boy and Shaun of the Dead.

462 1U/1G TOPICS IN MODERN FICTION, Hutner. MW 2-3:15

Group III or V

TOPIC: The 21st Century American International Novel

This version of English 462 emphasizes twenty-first century American novels whose unifying special interest rests on their commitment to life outside the US. Sometimes, the action returns to the mainland in these books, but they are centrally concerned with Americans abroad—in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East, South America. We will be observing how twenty-first century authors imaginatively render the ways Americans make sense of themselves, even when the experience they encounter takes place elsewhere. We will also observe how we interpret other cultures and countries: the limits and possibilities of our own social premises and cultural ideals. And, by contrast, we will also attend to the ways other cultures make sense of us.

Students may be startled by the richness of these novels, just as they may also be surprised to learn that US writers have been producing this kind of fiction for over 150 years, not just in Henry James’s London or Ernest Hemingway’s Paris. Instead, American novelists have been imagining sojourns everywhere, just as writers from around the world have come to the US as a foreign country to confront and whose challenges might be recorded. As we will also see, both sorts of journeys have changed after 9/11.

The writers we cover may not be known to you, but their novels have all been finalists for or winners of distinguished awards over the last decade. Part of the pleasure of studying this kind of writing is that much of it has not yet been fully assessed by literary historians. Ways of understanding the novels’ issues and preoccupations are not yet cemented, and readers are in the happy, if unfamiliar position of responding to the works as entirely fresh—because they are.

The reading load is substantive but manageable, provided students stay up to date.

462 U3/G4 TOPICS IN MODERN FICTION, Mehta. TUTH 11-12:20

Group V

meets with CWL 441

TOPIC: Deceit, Desire and the Novel

The subject of this course is the genre of the novel and its concordance with the political and cultural worlds of the bourgeoisie in the 19th and the early 20th century. How did the novel in different stages and ages of capitalist development interact with the reading public? How was sexuality in its normative or deviant forms explored in this genre? What was the relation between public and private spheres? How did the shadow of the lands/colonies//empires far away figure in the narratives? What new elements or rules, if any, were introduced into the scene by the bourgeoisie of colonized societies? These are some of the issues that will be explored in this course.

465 1U/1G TOPICS IN DRAMA, Barrett. MWF 10

Group I or V

same as CWL 465

TOPIC: Ecocriticism and Early English Drama

This course surveys early English drama through an ecological lens. Medieval and early modern conceptions of nature inform the plays and shows of the three centuries before the closing of the theatres in 1642; these dramas in turn make crucial contributions to discourses of the natural. For example, in the York and Chester bible cycles, the Eden and Noah pageants establish humanity’s relationship with nature in ways that owe as much to the cycles’ civic sponsors as to the Book of Genesis. The Towneley Second Shepherds’ Play blurs the line between human and animal, juxtaposing a stolen sheep disguised as a baby with the Lamb of God in the stable, while the morality play Mankind redefines human existence as wheat harvest. The “green worlds” of William Shakespeare’s comedies—the forests of Athens (Midsummer Night’s Dream), Arden (As You Like It), and Windsor (Merry Wives of Windsor)—exist on a biopolitical continuum with the urban zones nominally opposed to them. In the 1630s, John Brome’s Sparagus Garden explores the class conflicts resulting from the enclosure and commodification of common green spaces as urban parks. These aren’t the only plays and issues we’ll consider in the course, but they do suggest ecocriticism’s potential for the study of early English drama. Assignments will range from short reading responses to a larger research project; there will also be a pair of exams. We will not stage a course production of any of our shows, but we will frequently act out key scenes in class—we are talking about theatre, after all.

465 2U/2G TOPICS IN DRAMA, Mahaffey. MW 2-3:15

Group II or V

same as CWL 465

TOPIC: Modern Irish Drama

Much of the experimental drama of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries came from Ireland. In this course, we will trace the development of Irish drama from Wilde and Shaw to Brian Friel. We will look at Yeats’ plays, influenced by the Japanese Noh drama, the beginnings of the Abbey theater, and plays by Synge, Lady Gregory, Sean O’Casey, and Samuel Beckett. We will also look at more contemporary Irish plays by Martin McDonagh, Marina Carr, and Brian Friel. If time permits, we will also examine plays by Louis McNeice, Lennox Robinson, and Brendan Behan. We will consider production history and try to ascertain important aspects of the cultural context out of which these plays emerged.

Requirements include an oral report, two analytical essays, and possibly a staged scene to be presented to the class and/or recorded.


Group V

TOPIC: Culture and Sustainability

Sustainability, as the word suggests, looks toward the future. What aspects of our present culture and lifestyle will remain viable in the coming decades, and which will not? And just how bumpy, even traumatic, will our path be into a world of serious constraints on energy and resources? With a cluster of interconnected crises rapidly developing around energy, water, climate, population increase and food production, we need urgent answers to these questions. In this class, we will search for these answers first in the centuries-long history of environmental discourse in the West, before examining in detail the current debates on sustainability through selected readings from notable commentators in the field. Because sustainability is truly the science of everything, these readings will range widely across the domains of literature, science, psychology, and popular journalism.


History and theory of written composition; basic rhetorical principles; and guidance and criticism of student writing.

482 1U/1G WRITING TECHNOLOGIES, D. Baron. MW 3:30-4:45

same as LIS 482

In this course, we’ll look closely at the new genres of communication that the digital computer has enabled: email, instant messaging, texting, the blog, the web page, Twitter and Facebook, the wiki (Wikipedia), the cell phone video and the whole YouTube phenomenon. By the time the semester is done, new genres we have yet to imagine may be on the scene.

These electronic genres may not be entirely “literary,” but they are conventional forms of writing nonetheless, and because they are soooo successful, they have brought everyday writing into focus more sharply than anything that’s preceded them. While we can only look back and guess at the development of earlier genres—the heroic and lyric poems, the novel, the diary, the memo, the drama—we are in the enviable position of being able to watch the new digital genres establish themselves as cultural practices. It’s a little like being present at the birth of stars.

We will examine the impact of the new digital genres on our reading and writing practices and look at ways in which the requirements of readers and writers impact the direction of technology. We’ll look as well at how these genres arise; what their relationships may be to earlier, more traditional genres; how they develop unique conventions and practices; how they self-regulate, moving from freewheeling anarchy toward definable forms and expected behaviors; how they deal with violations of conventional norms; and how new practitioners learn and perfect their art. We’ll consider how the new genres create an aesthetic, a rating system that allows us to determine what counts as a good email, an effective web design, an appropriate Facebook entry, or a blog worth reading.

There will be a number of short essays and exercises, and a presentation. All readings will be available online.

Copies of the syllabus, handouts, and supplementary readings will be posted on the class web page.

500 T INTRO TO CRITICISM AND RESEARCH, M. Basu. TH 3-4:50; TU 7:30-9:20

This course provides a historical survey of the foundational thinkers, texts, and schools that orient contemporary work in the humanities, from Kant and Hegel to Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Theory, with the emphasis being on the relations between these different texts and schools. What are the linkages, for instance, between aesthetics, history, the subject, value, power, language, ideology, materiality, gender, sexuality, race, and colonialism? Through these question and some responses to them, the course aims to ensure that graduate students receive a rigorous introduction to critical theories and methodologies that will provide the basis for interdisciplinary conversation and intellectual community among students and faculty members from across the university.


same as MACS 503, CWL 503

The first three weeks, we will be discussing general historiographic topics and texts (Lewis and Smoodin, Hansen and Studlar), with short assignments to orient sstudents to the field. The next several weeks will concentrate on key historical texts in the history of sound and especially the emergence of sound technology in the late 1920s and early 1930s. These texts will model various approaches to historical research, and just as importantly, the priority given to different kinds of evidence and the interpretation of that evidence. There will be a screening (usually about 90min) of a film appropriate to the following week’s reading. The last two weeks will be student research presentations.

505 T WRITING STUDIES I, Schaffner. TH 3-4:50

same as CI 563

This seminar is an introduction to writing studies, a field that was originally dedicated to scholarship dealing with the teaching of academic writing. The field of writing studies has expanded in recent decades to include a much wider array of topics, indicative of the view that writing structures a good deal of our institutional and interpersonal exchanges. Over the course of the semester, we will read broadly to explore how work on writing engages a variety of ideas and disciplines. Students in the course will complete regular reading response papers, co-author a review essay, present on work-in-progress, and complete a research paper dealing with an aspect of writing studies.


same as MDVL 514

TOPIC: Ecocriticism and Early English Drama

This seminar surveys early English drama through an ecological lens, exploring the intersection of culture and nature on English stages in the three centuries before the closing of the theatres in 1642. For example, in the York and Chester bible cycles, the Eden and Noah pageants establish humanity’s relationship with nature in ways that owe as much to the cycles’ civic sponsors as to the Book of Genesis. The Towneley Second Shepherds’ Play blurs the line between human and animal, juxtaposing a stolen sheep disguised as a baby with the Lamb of God, while the morality play Mankind redefines human existence as wheat harvest. We’ll consider the ecological complexities of William Shakespeare’s “green world” comedies, situating the Forests of Athens, Arden, and Windsor along a biopolitical continuum with Shakespeare’s urban zones. Climate and weather are up for discussion in shows ranging from John Heywood’s Tudor interlude The Play of the Weather to Thomas Nashe’s Summer’s Last Will and Testament; Shakespeare’s King Lear may feature here as well. “Blue studies” will give us new purchase on the oceanic spaces of The Tempest as well as those of numerous London Lord Mayor’s Shows, and we’ll look at Caroline drama’s response to the enclosure and commodification of common green spaces as urban parks. This brief list of possible texts and approaches is not exhaustive (e.g., I haven’t said anything about masques and royal entries); look for it to change by the start of the Fall 2012 semester. The seminar will also double as an introduction to ecocritical theory, both within and without the purview of medieval and early modern studies. Names to drop here include Lawrence Buell, Ursula Heise, Timothy Morton, Raymond Williams, and our own Gillen Wood. Expect some shorter writing assignments to go along with the usual seminar paper; I may even overcome my habitual distaste for presentations.

537 E SEMINAR VICTORIAN LITERATURE, Courtemanche. W 1-2:50

TOPIC: Machine Dreams: Victorian Utopias

One of the most surprising things about Victorian utopias is that so many of them actually came to pass. From the link between urban hub and suburban idyll made possible by mass transit, to universal consumerism, the socialist welfare state, international communism, and the solution of the “Jewish problem” through the creation of the state of Israel, many of the most far-fetched dreams of Victorian radicals became everyday realities in the following centuries. In this class, we will consider the British tradition of neo-medieval futurism (Thomas Carlyle’s Past and Present, John Ruskin’s The Stones of Venice, William Morris’s News from Nowhere), social planning through architecture (Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist, Emile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise, Walter Benjamin’s arcades, Robert Owen’s co-operative factories, and Charles Fourier’s phalansteries), technocracy (Theodor Herzl’s Old-New Land, Edward Bellamy’s Looking Backward, and H. G. Wells’s A Modern Utopia), class struggle (Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South and Marx and Engels’s The Communist Manifesto), and the neo-Victorian genre of steampunk (William Gibson’s The Difference Engine), as well as secondary criticism. Class requirements will include a class presentation, a seminar paper, and several writing and public speaking exercises.


TOPIC: The Minds of Modernism

This seminar will examine the conceptual and rhetorical exchanges between modernist literature and the history of psychology. We will consider the influences that early psychiatry, introspective psychology, psychoanalysis, sexology, behaviorism, and gestalt psychology had upon British and Irish experimental writing. Conversely, we will ask how those literary experiments exerted critical pressure on the new sciences of the mind. Along the way we will consider the roles that certain psychopathologies and cognitive disorders played in the construction of the “normal” mind. We will also survey reconsiderations of modernist narrative techniques in light of recent developments in cognitive narratology. Provisional reading list may include primary works by Virginia Woolf, Wyndham Lewis, D.H. Lawrence, May Sinclair, Mina Loy, Radclyffe Hall, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett among others.


TOPIC: Realism and Its Discontents: 1880-1917

Literary histories generally refer to late nineteenth-century US culture as the “age of realism” yet no term in the period was more contested than the “real.” In the social and political arenas, mechanisms for determining who and what counted as “the real thing” and opportunities to transform one’s social place and invent a new social identity seemed to be multiplying. Similarly, realism’s formal methods for describing the interior life of literary characters drew on emerging discourses of psychoanalysis and sociology, and thus appeared to provide an especially compelling narrative of the emergence of the subject as both separate from and yet completely formed by the social. This class will track two analytic strands that intersect with the formal and historical work of realism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. One trajectory of the class will give students of American literature and culture a grounding in scholarly arguments about the role of the genre of realism in literary history. We will look at the self-conscious formation of literary realism, studying its relationship to the social field that produced it and that it in turn helped to produce. We will look at the strategies of the realists for making sense of a world whose very social multiplicity challenged any easy way to classify persons. We will also look at the tradition of literary criticism in the United States that helped to privilege realism as the generic totem of the nineteenth century, and we will look at the literary and critical texts that challenged its primacy. The second trajectory of the class contextualizes our inquiry into realism. As we look at debates over the meaning and proper expression of the real, we will also look closely at the development of the interior life of the subject as an object of special fascination for a variety of other disciplines. Through the emergence of other disciplinary discourses that also sought to make sense of the emergence of the subject in a social field, we will study the meaning of the social distinctions that helped to create the middle class readers of realism. How were they solicited by advertisements? How did they make (quite unstable) distinctions between high and low culture? How did they understand the relationship between capital and status? How were new categories of social difference narrated by the age of realism, and how did realism fail them?


TOPIC: American Poetry Since 1950

I often wonder whether the first or second half of the twentieth century was the most innovative in terms of poetic history. In truth over a period of a hundred years every decade saw the arrival of a series of radical aesthetic breaks with the past. In the 1950s the Beats and confessional poets together put to rest the modernist goal of impersonal detachment. At the same time, a great many poets seemed to retreat from the social and political commitments that characterized the 1930s; yet we can now recognize that they addressed the anxieties of the cold war by indirecton. Then in the 1960s the Black Arts movement intensified the issues raised by the Harlem Renaissance and open form poetry radicalized the collage techniques of the early part of the century. They took on new political inflections in the 1960s and 1970s in response to Vietnam.

The last 25 years have seen a multicultural renaissance in American poetry, along with a series of challenging linguistic experiments. These are some of the innovations we will study, using Anthology of Modern American Poetry and its accompanying web site as major texts, supplemented by critical essays and photocopied poems. We will take a look at 9/11 poems at the end of the seminar.

The URL for the web site (MAPS) is http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps.

MAPS makes it easy to review the history of commentary on individual poems.

You simply click on the poet's name and then on a poem title. The site also has extensive (and still growing) historical background on line.

In the days before each seminar meeting we will all engage in an email dialogue about the poems and the criticism, raising issues to discuss in class and offering comments and challenges to one another. The syllabus for the last time I taught this seminar is on MAPS. I’ll no doubt tinker with it, but it gives you a good idea of what we'll be covering.

The first writing assignment will then be a short poem analysis designed to go on line on MAPS. These analyses will be shared with all class members so that you can incorporate their suggestions before going on line.

The site is approaching 3,000 hits per week, so you will have a very large audience for your analysis, which you should list on your vita as an online publication.

There will also be a research paper due at the end of the class. It can focus on one poet, a group of poets, or an issue of particular interest to you. Please email me with any questions. Seminar participants will also have the opportunity to be involved in the editing of a new, expanded edition of Oxford University Press’s Anthology of Modern American Poetry—by reading and commenting on potential additions to the book.


meets with GER 576, SCAN 593, CWL 571

TOPIC: Spaces of Transnational European Modernism

This comparative and interdisciplinary seminar focuses on the formation and cultural significance of transnational modernist literature, art, and film in Europe at the end of the nineteenth-century and first decades of the twentieth. It asks how and where modernism develops, how modernism thematizes and formalizes transnational experiences and expressions, and juxtaposes readings and art by diverse figures Joseph Conrad and August Strindberg; Lou Salomé and Hjalmar Söderberg; Rainer Maria Rilke and HenrikIbsen; André Breton and Knut Hamsun; or Amalie Skram and Robert Wiene. Theoretical inquiries center on conceptualizations of the transnational as a critical vehicle of expression for émigré and exile writers and artists; urban spatiality as a privileged geographical imaginary for modernism; and challenges to center-margin paradigms posed by lesser-known modernist traditions. Genre discussions include investigating relationships between theories of modernism and the rise of modern drama; inquiries into self-reflexively disjointed first-person or autobiographically inflected prose narration; materialism and concrete poetry; expressionist montage cinema; and experimental photography.

All texts are available in English translation, but students proficient in German or a Scandinavian language should read the works in the original. Class discussion will be in English. Students will be asked to participate actively in seminars, give presentations orally and as web-artifacts, and conduct a final research project.


TOPIC: The Implicated Subject: Distant Suffering in Literature and Theory

What kinds of claims does the past make on the present? In what ways are we responsible for events that take place at a great distance as well as those that are close at hand? This seminar will address the ethics and politics of distant suffering from literary, cinematic, and theoretical angles. With a focus on both the temporally and the spatially distant—including a focus on how “distance” and “proximity” are constructed—the course will explore what might be called an “archive of implication”: a deliberately open-ended term that gathers together various modes of historical and ethical relation that do not necessarily (or simply) fall under the more direct forms of participation associated with traumatic or violent events, such as victimization and perpetration. Such “implicated” modes of relation encompass bystanders, beneficiaries, latecomers of the postmemory generation, and others connected powerfully to pasts they did not directly experience or to contemporary contexts that might seem far away. A consideration of the issues associated with these implicated subject positions moves us away from overt questions of guilt and innocence and into the more uncertain moral and ethical terrain of complicity. Problems of ethical and political implication will be explored via contemporary literary, cinematic, and theoretical texts dealing with: war, genocide, slavery, apartheid, colonialism, and contemporary globalization. Since the course is meant as an experiment in developing new ways of thinking about social and historical relationality, students will be encouraged to draw on their own research interests and explore archives of implication beyond those mentioned here. To the extent possible, we will try to incorporate such interests into the syllabus.

Requirements will include: active participation, several short response papers, and a seminar paper. Likely readings will include (but will not be limited to): Judith Butler, Frames of War; Octavia Butler, Kindred; Stanley Cohen, States of Denial; Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss;

Mohsin Hamid, The Reluctant Fundamentalist; Saidiya Hartman, Lose Your Mother; Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place; Antje Krog, Country of My Skull; Joe Sacco, The Fixer; Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others; films by Stephanie Black (Life and Debt), Michael Haneke (Caché), and William Kentridge (Drawings for Projection); and essays by Timothy Bewes, Luc Boltanski, Marianne Hirsch, Primo Levi, Mark Sanders, Gabriele Schwab, and others.

For more information or to make suggestions about possible material to include in the course, please contact me by email: mpr [at] illinois.edu.


meets with RLST 590

TOPIC: The Brain and the Subject of Culture

The Brain and the Subject of Culture - introduces humanities students to the fundamental concepts and practices of contemporary neuroscience and some of the major research areas currently under investigation. Special emphasis will be placed on the intersection of neuroscientific research in cultural and social questions also addressed in humanities disciplines. The course will situate contemporary neuroscience within its historical context, tracing the rise of brain science from the nineteenth century to the present. Themes to be addressed include the interrelation of nueroscience and the study of religion; neuroscience as a literary theme and as a shaper of literary form (“stream of consciousness,” e.g.); philosophical implications of brain plasticity; neuroscience and new models of selfhood; emotions and embedded cognition.


same as CI 565

TOPIC: Situated Studies of Writing and Semiotic Remediation

This seminar explores theoretical and methodological frameworks for studying writing and, more broadly, semiotic remediation practices. Its basic premise is that any study of writing as practice leads toward embodied activity that involves varied semiotic modes and that implicates multiple times, places, and people. In this seminar, we will examine in depth some key examples of theoretical and empirical work in these areas. The examples are drawn from a variety of research areas, not only Writing Studies. To examine how to implement these approaches in studies of writing and literate activity, we will engage in a number of inquiry activities (practicing in effect how to plan, conduct and analyze research). Finally, students will explore the application of these approaches to current or projected research projects.

Readings: Semiotic remediation as discourse practice, Paul Prior & Julie Hengst (Eds); Toward a composition made whole, Jody Shipka; Academic writing in a global context, Theresa Lillis & Mary Jane Curry; and individual readings that will include work by varied theorists and researchers (e.g., Asif Agha, Morana Alac, Charles Bazerman, Rebecca Black, Christine Casanave, Montserrat Castelló, Suresh Canagarajah, Ralph Cintron, Bill Hart-Davidson, Anne Dyson, Charles Goodwin, Gail Hawisher, Judith Irvine, Roz Ivanic, George Kamberelis, Valerie Kinloch, Wan Shun Eva Lam, Bruno Latour, Jay Lemke, Kevin Leander, Theresa Lillis, Luis Moll, Sigrid Norris, Elinor Ochs, Daniel Perrin, Ron Scollon, Jurgen Streeck, Christine Tardy, Valentin Voloshinov).

593 D PROF SEMINAR COLLEGE TCHG, Schaffner. M 11-12:50

TOPIC: The Teaching of Rhetoric

This is a course for students new to the teaching of college composition. Over the course of the semester, we will explore connections between theories of written composition and teaching practices. In particular, students in the course will theorize practices relating to: syllabus and assignment design, conferencing with students, responding to student work, dealing with conflict, maintaining language diversities in the classroom, and developing teaching personae. Requirements for the course include reading, participating in class discussion, blogging, drafting a statement of teaching philosophy, and creating a reflective teaching portfolio.

593 P PROF SEMINAR COLLEGE TCHG, Erickson. TU 11-12:50

TOPIC: The Teaching of Business and Technical Writing

This professional seminar is designed to ground graduate students in some of the salient genres, discourse conventions, and styles privileged by discourse communities engaged in business, as well as help those students construct a sophisticated conceptual understanding of writing well suited to the instruction/learning of writing-as-a-verb for those discourse communities. More importantly, this seminar will help its students critically engage useful pedagogical theory and theory from the field of business/technical writing, so they might improve their effectiveness as classroom instructors. This seminar is required of all graduate students teaching business/technical writing for the first time.

593 P2 PROF SEMINAR COLLEGE TCHG, Curry. TH 11-12:50

TOPIC: The Teaching of Film

This seminar, a prerequisite to teaching English 104 (Introduction to Film) and a practical (and resume-building!) foundation for teaching basic cinema/media courses otherwise, has three goals: to give participants a grasp of film form (e.g., practices of lighting, camerawork, editing); to survey currently dominant analytic approaches in cinema studies, and to impart and practice strategies of teaching cinema and related media forms in the classroom. The first goal, a focus at the beginning of the semester, involves participants in small groups themselves producing short photo series and videos. The second content-oriented component, the substantial focus after the first few sessions, entails critical discussion of a number of films from a range of theoretical approaches and within diverse film historical contexts. Models of cinema analysis considered include formalist, auteurist, feminist, genre studies, cultural studies, and post-colonialist. The third goal, preparing to teach film systematically, becomes a focus in the latter part of the course, as students observe on-going film classes, design a course syllabus, learn to generate instructional materials, and give teaching presentations. Seminar “graduates” will have opportunity to apply the newly acquired skills under faculty guidance through assignment to teaching a “stand-alone” section of Intro to Film in Spring 2013. Interested graduate students are encouraged to see Ramona Curry with any questions or to get tips about films and readings to be covered, in case anyone wishes to get a headstart in acquiring background over the summer.

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