Graduate Course Descriptions | Spring 2020

Courses

Creative Writing

ENCW 7310 - MFA Poetry Workshop: The Poet as a Researcher

M 200-430 (Bryan 233)
Kiki Petrosino

This graduate-level workshop, designed for MFA poets in the first two years of the program, invites students to continue developing their own writing practices, while adding new compositional and critical techniques to their repertoires. We’ll devote most class sessions to reviewing peer-generated poetry, but we’ll also discuss published works and take time to explore other aspects of the creative process. This semester, we will focus on the importance of research, broadly defined, to the production of contemporary poetry. We will explore the forms and modes, including archival or documentary poetics, available to poets who wish to bring the language of non-literary source material into their work. Students should be prepared to participate energetically in group critique sessions (i.e., “workshop”) in addition to polishing their own writing. Students will assemble a portfolio of poetry at semester’s end. Each student also will serve as first commenter for select peer manuscripts, preparing robust introductory remarks for workshop. Students will create an individual author website or blog, and compose four website entries about their ongoing research and creative activity. The final grade will be calculated based on the above items, plus attendance and participation. Instructor permission required.

ENCW 7610 - MFA Fiction Workshop

M 200-430 (Dawson's Row 1)
Jane Alison

Instructor permission required.

English Literature

ENGL 5101 - Beowulf

TR 1100-1215 (Bryan 328)
Peter Baker

ENGL 5559-001 - The Sonnet Revised and Revisited

TR 1100-1215 (Bryan 310)
Clare Kinney

Please note: this course may be used to satisfy the pre-1700 requirement (with a slight tweaking of the requirements: see instructor).  

“A chamber of sudden change”; “a meeting place of image and voice”; “a game with mortal stakes”; “the collision of music, desire and argument”: these are some of the ways that poets and critics have described the sonnet. Starting with the Petrarchan experiments of Renaissance Europe and extending our reach through the Romantics & the modernists to Ted Berrigan, Seamus Heaney, Carol Ann Duffy, Terrance Hayes and beyond, we will consider the persistence and the many metamorphoses of the form.  Sonnet writers construct a “a moment’s monument” for religious, political, philosophical and meta-poetical purposes as well as to anatomize desire, and when they present sonnets in sequence they make lyric do something of the work of narrative. Every time a poet writes a sonnet he or she becomes part of a very long literary conversation and may make that intervention the occasion to set thought and feeling in a new dialogue, to reconsider “the contradictory impulses of being in the world,” to talk back to tradition, to make the dead speak again, to re-make and re-break the rules of form. Exploring the history, poetics and the race and gender politics of this tenacious short form, we will consider the craftiness of craft and the particular power of “bound language.”  In addition to addressing a wide selection of sonnets written from the 16th century to yesterday, we will also read critical writings on the sonnet by a variety of scholars and poets.   

Requirements: lively participation in discussion; a series of email responses to readings, one 6-7 page paper; a presentation on a contemporary sonnet of your own choice; a substantial final project (critical or hybrid creative- critical).

ENGL 5559-002 - Afterlives of the Epic

MW 1100-1215 (Bryan 233)
Dan Kinney

What becomes of the epic, especially (but not only) in Renaissance England? Where has it been, and where does it still have to go? Why does the most elevated of literary modes in traditional reckonings end up seeming passe or impossible to so many moderns? Works to be read include Homer's epics, The Aeneid, The Inferno, Paradise Lost, Robinson Crusoe, The Dunciad, and The Waste Land. Class requirements: lively participation including brief email responses, two shorter or one more substantial term paper, and a final exam.

ENGL 5559-003 - The Queer Novel

MW 500-615 (Wilson 238)
Mrinalini Chakravorty

What is “queer” about the novel?  Our course will grapple with this question by examining the rich legacy of non-normative sexual expressions and orientations in the literary arts.  The aim of the course is—

  1. To understand what constitutes ‘queer literature’ as a meaningful genre or archive.  Is the queer novel unique in its expressivity, in terms of style and content?  Does the queer novel have its own canon?  Should this canon be more open to revision than others given the constant evolutions in how we understand gender?
  2. To see how novels engage political ideas of sexuality germane to thinking about queerness, such as of ‘homophobia,’ the ‘closet,’ 'inversion’ ‘gender bending,’ ‘cis-acting,’ ‘coming out,’ ‘failure,’ ‘deviance,’ ‘camp,’ ‘cruising,’ ‘queer futurity,’ ‘queer feeling,’ ‘homonationalism,’ ‘disidentification,’ ‘performitivity,’ ‘flamboyance,’ etc.  
  3. To confront radical questions about subjectivity and embodiment that the analytic of sexuality enables us to ask about the worlds we inhabit and the texts that represent these worlds.  

To accomplish these goals, we will read sweepingly across the whole breadth of the queer canon.  We will begin with early classics (by Radclyffe Hall, Virginia Woolf, E.M.Forster) of queer literature and then shift our attention to more contemporary transnational contexts concerned with representing queerness as a part of, and not apart from, affiliations of race, culture, religion, geography, class etc.  Our reading includes works by Radclyffe Hall, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Ali Smith, Leslie Feinberg, Michael Cunningham, Shyam Selvadurai, Alison Bechdel, Saleem Haddad, and Shaani Mootoo among others.  In other words, we will think of the important ways that the evolution of the queer novel involves a perpetual re-queering of the genre itself by the insistent heterogeneity of racial, transnational, and transgender contexts.  While most of the novels we read will come from the Anglophone tradition, some will be translated from other languages.

This course will require that students be prepared to engage directly and fearlessly with the field of queer theory.  Queer theory will inform how we contextualize the subcultures of queerness (from Bloomsbury or Stonewall to Queer-of-Color activisms), as well as understand why notions of reproductive normality, eroticism, pleasure, kinship, and indeed queer identity have been transformed in recent literary and aesthetic works.  Ultimately, we will ask how queer aesthetic works speak to, revise, and must be re-evaluated given the shifting dynamics of queer thought.  Here our reading includes work by Michel Foucault, David Halperin, Judith Butler Jasbir Puar, Monique Wittig, Adrienne Rich, Judith Halberstam, Sara Ahmed, Lee Edelman, Jose Munoz,  Marlon Ross, and others.  Finally, a selection of salient films, poems, and short stories will allow us to see useful connections between the aesthetic and political charge—often one of transgression—that the sign of the “queer” carries.

This course is a graduate level course but it can also be taken to satisfy the Modern and Global Studies seminar requirement for undergraduates in that concentration.

ENGL 5559-004 - Contemporary Jewish Fiction

TR 200-315 (Bryan 203)
Caroline Rody

Cross-listed with ENGL 5830.

This course, designed for both graduate students and upper level undergraduates (and which fulfills a requirement for the World Religions, World Literatures M.A. program), will consider the mutual engagement of art and spirit in post-World War II Jewish American literature, a young literature with roots in formidable textual, cultural, and religious traditions.  In the texts of this course we will observe an evolving relationship to traditional Jewish texts and religious practice, to Yiddish and the culture of Yiddishkeit; to memory and inheritance as burdens or as creative touchstones in secular, modern cultural forms, and to forms of Jewish humor and of political vision. At the same time, our syllabus will unfold a drama of Americanization, including changing notions about personal, linguistic, and national identity; about gender roles; and about communal and aesthetic affiliation in a multiethnic society. Several authors take up the difficult project of re-encountering and reframing the Holocaust, in startlingly anti-realist, darkly comic literary visions.  And some practice Jewish writing as rewriting, inscribing themselves in a literary web by reanimating key Jewish texts and writers of the past. A key figure at the course’s opening is the great Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer. Others who may be read include Grace Paley, Alfred Kazin, Chaim Potok, Elie Wiesel, Lore Segal, Art Spiegelman, Philip Roth, Nathan Englander, Allegra Goodman, and David Bezmozgis. A final unit will focus on the remarkable collective reimagination of the work and life of Polish-Jewish surrealist writer (and Holocaust victim) Bruno Schulz, reconjured into contemporary fiction by writers we will read including Cynthia Ozick, David Grossman, Nicole Krauss, and Jonathan Safran Foer.  Texts include short stories, novels, and critical essays. Requirements: all reading, active class participation, co-leading of a class discussion, several short reading responses, a short and a long paper, the latter with creative options.

ENGL 5830 - Introduction to World Religions, World Literatures: Contemporary Jewish Fiction

TR 200-315 (Bryan 203)
Caroline Rody

Cross-listed with ENGL 5559-004.

This course, designed for both graduate students and upper level undergraduates (and which fulfills a requirement for the World Religions, World Literatures M.A. program), will consider the mutual engagement of art and spirit in post-World War II Jewish American literature, a young literature with roots in formidable textual, cultural, and religious traditions.  In the texts of this course we will observe an evolving relationship to traditional Jewish texts and religious practice, to Yiddish and the culture of Yiddishkeit; to memory and inheritance as burdens or as creative touchstones in secular, modern cultural forms, and to forms of Jewish humor and of political vision. At the same time, our syllabus will unfold a drama of Americanization, including changing notions about personal, linguistic, and national identity; about gender roles; and about communal and aesthetic affiliation in a multiethnic society. Several authors take up the difficult project of re-encountering and reframing the Holocaust, in startlingly anti-realist, darkly comic literary visions.  And some practice Jewish writing as rewriting, inscribing themselves in a literary web by reanimating key Jewish texts and writers of the past. A key figure at the course’s opening is the great Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer. Others who may be read include Grace Paley, Alfred Kazin, Chaim Potok, Elie Wiesel, Lore Segal, Art Spiegelman, Philip Roth, Nathan Englander, Allegra Goodman, and David Bezmozgis. A final unit will focus on the remarkable collective reimagination of the work and life of Polish-Jewish surrealist writer (and Holocaust victim) Bruno Schulz, reconjured into contemporary fiction by writers we will read including Cynthia Ozick, David Grossman, Nicole Krauss, and Jonathan Safran Foer.  Texts include short stories, novels, and critical essays. Requirements: all reading, active class participation, co-leading of a class discussion, several short reading responses, a short and a long paper, the latter with creative options.

ENGL 5831 - Proseminar in World Religions, World Literatures

A pass/fail, one-credit workshop for those graduate students in English and in Religious Studies who are concentrating in World Religions, World Literatures, as well as others whose work would benefit from conversations across the disciplines.  We meet for an hour, more or less weekly, at a time and place to be determined by the participants.  Some joint readings, many visits from faculty around the University, much conversation: this is designed as support and inspiration for the rest of your work.

ENGL 5900 - Counterpoint Seminar in Teaching Modern Literature

M 630-900 (New Cabell 191)
Hallie Richmond

This course is a hands-on, practical seminar for teaching works of complex literature to a varied range of secondary school  pupils. The purpose of the course is to provide participants with an opportunity to read classic texts that are frequently taught in the high school English classroom—or that provide context for such—and apply pedagogical strategies that reflect best practices in English education to allow for students of all reading levels to access these texts. As a "Counterpoint Seminar," this course asks students to combine skills in reading and writing developed from previous literature classes with their emerging pedagogical skills. It also asks students to reflect critically on their own strengths and weaknesses as readers of literature, with an eye toward expanding the repertoire of interpretive strategies at their disposal as English educators.

ENGL 8330 - Early American Literature

W 500-730 (Bryan 235)
Anna Brickhouse

This course will explore Literature of the Americas through the lens of catastrophe, or “the Curse and the Doom of the New World.” Reading a range of histories and fictions from and about the Americas, from writings by Columbus to Toni Morrison’s A Mercy, we will consider the relationship between “early America” and our own catastrophic times. Students taking the course to fulfill a pre-1900 requirement may choose to write their final papers on at least one pre-1900 text.

ENGL 8520-001 - Milton

TR 930-1045 (Bryan 233)
Rebecca Rush

In this graduate-level seminar, we will read Milton’s poetic works, from his early lyrics to Samson Agonistes, alongside his divorce tracts, political polemic, and educational writing. We will also read selections from both early modern and twentieth-century biographies of Milton and will delve into the vast and varied body of scholarship that surrounds Milton’s life and work. No prior knowledge of Milton is required, but a willingness to read with the utmost care is.

N.B. for those who like to buy books ahead of time: we will be using the Modern Library edition of The Complete Poetry and Essential Prose of John Milton edited by William Kerrigan, John Rumrich, and Stephen M. Fallon.

ENGL 8540-001 - U.S. Literature and the Politics of Justice

TR 1230-145 (New Cabell 594)
Victoria Olwell

This course has two guiding aims:  to examine U.S. fiction published during the historical span from the antebellum period through the progressive era, and to weigh that literature's engagement with struggles for justice. The first aim embraces historical U.S. literary studies, while the second is designed to provide methodological training in analyzing literature's conceivable means addressing social justice in a variety of historical and literary contexts. The course takes as its starting point the observation that scholarship often positions literary texts in relation to the politics of social justice. In such scholarship, literature takes on a dizzying variety of roles -- as a rich resource for conceptualizing social justice in inventive ways, as a mode of discourse complicit with toxic hegemonies, as a participant in the more general cultural labor of forming political community, and as resistant force in the face of oppression, to name some of the most frequent. In this course, we will seek to specify and interrogate the ways that the literature on the syllabus, as well as literature more generally, might intelligibly be said to respond to, intervene in, conceptualize, or register the politics of social justice. Literary texts will include work by Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Charles Chesnutt, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Stephen Crane, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Jacob Riis, Sui Sin Far, Upton Sinclair, Helen Hunt Jackson, and Nella Larsen, among others. We'll also read theoretical and scholarly works that have produced critical vocabularies for understanding rights, personhood, governance, and justice. Course requirements include several short papers, a seminar paper of about 20 pages, and vigorous participation.

ENGL 8559-001 - Approaches to American Culture

T 330-600 (Maury 115)
Sandhya Shukla

This course explores the theory and practice of American cultural studies, a set of intellectual formations that contemplates the contours of interdisciplinarity.  It conceives of culture in the broadest way, capturing a more anthropological understanding of the quotidian (rituals, customs, conversations, worldviews), as well as more aesthetic sensibilities seen in the products of a creative imagination.  Culture’s deep stratification, by class, race, gender and sexuality, is a special focus as we consider seemingly coherent expressions of the United States.

Any number of materials could be considered under the expansive rubric of American cultural studies, but this particular inquiry begins in the twentieth century to develop a conversation about how the nation has been imagined as bounded within but also overlapping with global modernity.  Here we necessarily cast “America” as provisional, contingent, and potentially opening of continental and hemispheric horizons.  We will pay attention to how academic fields (Americanist and other) have formed in relation to questions about spatiality, politics, language, canons, social movements, and more.

Above all this class seeks to inspire an interpretive practice that can be mobilized for a range of inter/disciplinary projects across the humanities and social sciences.  If we consider the meaning of a text to be derived from relationships among production, consumption and circulation, we must closely read historical, social, aesthetic and formalistic aspects together.  In so doing, we hope to develop new ways to organize knowledge and get closer to how people live in and express the world.

Over the course of the term we will read cultural theory, key/classic texts in American Studies (with different disciplinary inflections), and emerging projects.  These may include works by: Raymond Williams, Stuart Hall, Pierre Bourdieu, Benedict Anderson, Paul Gilroy, Amy Kaplan, Donald Pease, Susan Harding, Melani McAlister, Janice Radway, Kathleen Stewart, Michael Denning, Sara Blair and others.  Students will be required to workshop and complete a 15-20 page paper.

ENGL 8559-002 - Global Chaucers, World Shakespeares

T 400-630 (Bryan 233)
Bruce Holsinger

What is "global literature"? What is "world literature"? How are these categories mutually clarifying--and mutually antagonistic? This course will consider writings by Geoffrey Chaucer and William Shakespeare as a lens onto the contested definitions of global and world literatures in the long view, as well as the roles of periodization and presentism in the writing of transnational literary history. We will read Chaucer alongside his multilingual medieval sources, Shakespeare alongside Chaucerian and other works that influenced him, and both writers alongside some of the many works across the globe that have shaped their modern literary afterlives, from Aimé Césaire's Une Tempête to Toni Morrison's Desdemona to Patience Agbabi's Telling Tales. The semester's readings will include work by guest scholars coming to UVA for a major international symposium in April hosted by New Literary History, "Global Lit/World Lit, Past and Present." 

ENGL 8559-003 - Introduction to Digital Humanities

MW 400-515 (Wilson 244)
John Unsworth

A graduate-level introduction to the history, theory, and methods of the digital humanities, and a required course for the new graduate certificate in digital humanities.

ENGL 8596 - Form and Theory of Poetry: Ecopoetics & Ecocriticism

T 330-600 (Dawson's Row 1)
Brian Teare

In October of 2018, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released an unequivocal new report: “There is alarming evidence that important tipping points, leading to irreversible changes in major ecosystems and the planetary climate system, may already have been reached or passed.” But how did the planet get here? This Form & Theory of Poetry seminar will explore this critical historical moment of biospheric change – a new geological era some scientists call the Anthropocene – through the measures of time and culture offered by poets. After introductions to Modernist environmental poems and related ecocriticism, our subsequent readings in postmodern ecopoetry and Anthropocene studies will examine how colonialism, world war, globalization, exploitative capitalism, extractive industries, and factory farming have shaped this era we live in. Eight recent books by poets both detail and critique the ideologies that have worked to create and sustain the sociopolitical, economic, and environmental conditions that characterize the Anthropocene. Together we’ll also explore how their research into local ecosystems, urban landscapes, national and natural histories, and environmental and labor laws can suggest an entire poetics – a theory of making – and thus determine the structures of individual poems as well as of whole books. Paired with chapters from Bonneuil’s and Fressoz’s The Shock of the Anthropocene, these books will serve as our guides to the poetics of the Great Acceleration, and serve as a multi-volume alternative environmental history. During the first half of the semester each of us will be researching a creative or critical writing project. These projects will be drafted in completion, then peer-reviewed and conferenced, before being polished for a final grade.

ENGL 8598 - Form and Theory of Fiction: The Ludic: Carnival, Satire, Excess, Humor, and Play!

W 200-430 (Brooks Hall 103)
Micheline Marcom

In this course we will read a variety of texts around our theme, thinking not only about play in terms of subject, but also form. Texts will include works by Cortázar, Bulgakov, E.E. Cummings, Gerald Vizenor, Gertrude Stein, Flann O’Brien, Hilda Hilst, Bhanu Kapil, Beckett, Rabelais, Dr. Seuss, and Thomas Bernhard. We will also read excerpts of Bahktin and Huizinga. Students will be asked to write weekly creative responses to the texts in addition to weekly craft responses/observations and to be open themselves to playing around in in-class exercises and in their writing.

ENGL 8900 - Pedagogy Seminar

A seminar focusing on the pedagogical theories and techniques teachers can draw upon to conceptualize and design an undergraduate Writing course.

001
R 500-730 (New Cabell 056)
Tamika Carey

002
W 500-730 (Wilson 214)
Kevin Smith

003
M 100-150 (Bryan 334)
Jeb Livingood

ENGL 9560 - Poetry in a Global Age

MW 330-445 (Lower West Oval Room 102)
Jahan Ramazani

How does poetry articulate and respond to the globalizing processes that accelerate in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? In this seminar, we will consider modern and contemporary poetry in English in relation to transnational, global, world literary, and postcolonial theory and history. Above all our focus will be on the poetry. The writers we will read range from modernist poets like Eliot, Yeats, Stevens, and McKay to postcolonial poets of Ireland, India, Africa, Britain, and the Caribbean, such as Walcott, Heaney, Goodison, Philip, Kolatkar, Okot p’Bitek, Okigbo, and Daljit Nagra. Requirements include active participation; co-leading of discussion; and two conference-length papers (8-10 pages). Our texts will be from volumes 1 and 2 of The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, third edition, as supplemented by other poems and critical and theoretical texts.

ENGL 9580 - Aesthetics and Politics

M 630-900 (New Cabell 187)
Rita Felski

This course considers the relationship between aesthetics and politics via a survey of key terms in literature and the visual arts, including realism, modernism, the avant-garde, kitsch, camp, postmodernism, and the sublime. Other topics to be discussed include the museum, the role of race and gender in aesthetics, old and new directions in the sociology of literature and art, and the recent “return to beauty.” 

Other

ENGL 8993 - Independent Study

A single semester of independent study under faculty supervision for MA or PhD students in English doing intensive research on a subject not covered in the usual courses. Requires approval by a faculty member who has agreed to supervise a guided course of reading and substantial written exercise, a detailed outline of the research project, and authorization by the Director of Graduate Studies in English.  Only one may be offered for Ph.D credit. 

Graduate Courses